Virginia Expungement Attorney
Expungement involves erasing or destroying records of a person’s arrest or conviction to make it as though it never happened. The procedure allows convicted individuals to clean up their criminal records and make them inaccessible to the public. This allows them to start life afresh after the conviction and makes it easier to get housing, education, and other opportunities.
The expungement process in the US is governed by different state laws across all 50 states, and the procedure varies accordingly. But the one constant is that an applicant seeking expungement of their criminal/court records has to qualify and meet all the legal requirements that apply in the state where they were convicted.
So, if you have an arrest or conviction record in Virginia that you’d like to expunge and you’re unsure about your eligibility or other related issues, you might need to consult with a criminal lawyer whose practice area includes the expungement of criminal records. Your Virginia expungement lawyer can assess your qualification for the process and guide you through the long and sometimes tiring procedure.
Read on for more insight into how expungement works in Virginia and specific ways a Virginia Expungement Attorney can help you.
How Expungement of Records Works in Virginia
Generally, arrest and conviction records in Virginia are open to the public and can be accessed by third parties, such as employers, during a background check. However, the expungement process allows those eligible to have their criminal records restricted from public scrutiny or inspection. This means that such information would no longer appear on background checks, giving those affected a better chance at life.
Once the court makes an expungement order, it becomes illegal for anyone to open, review, or share the details of such records with another person without a court order.
It is also illegal for anyone, including an employer, landlord, or educational institution, to ask for details of an expunged record during an interview or for any other reason. If your record has been expunged and you find yourself in such a position, the law recognizes your right to refuse to answer such questions.
Who Is Eligible for Expungement?
Virginia expungement law is meant to help ‘innocent’ citizens whose arrest and conviction records hinder their ability to gain formal education, employment, and credit.
The procedure is therefore reserved for those who:
Have been absolutely pardoned for the offense they were convicted of
Have been acquitted of the charges against them
Were arrested but not convicted
Had the charges against them dismissed
The law also protects those whose name or identification has been used by someone else to commit a criminal offense. If that person is arrested and convicted, the one whose identity was stolen can approach the court to expunge their name from the records.
You may be eligible for expungement in Virginia if you fall into any of these categories. You can contact your attorney to assess your eligibility before you get started.
How to Apply for Expungement
To apply for an expungement of your records in Virginia, you’ll need to file a petition at the circuit court of the county or city where the case was concluded. You’ll also need to include some documents to support your petition. They include:
The date of the arrest
The name of the arresting agency
Your name and date of birth
Your fingerprints ( obtained from a law enforcement agency)
The law requires the Commonwealth of Virginia to be made a party to an expungement petition. This means that the state is notified of your petition and is usually represented by an attorney.
Remember that an expungement is not granted automatically, and a commonwealth attorney can object to your expungement petition for various reasons during the hearing. That is one of the reasons why you need an experienced Virginia expungement lawyer on your side to help you counter any arguments from the opposing side.
When Will a Virginia Court Grant an Expungement Order?
Whether or not your criminal history gets expunged depends on several factors, including the nature of the crime you were accused of and your previous criminal record.
Generally, the court would likely grant an expungement in the following circumstances:
If the commonwealth attorney does not object
If the arrest was for a misdemeanor
If the petitioner had no prior criminal record.
When the petitioner has been unjustly convicted and received an absolute pardon, expungement is automatically granted. In that case, all the petitioner has to do is provide the court with a copy of the order canceling the conviction.
How an Expungement Attorney Can Help You
Dealing with the aftermath of a conviction and having a criminal history is difficult, especially when your innocence has been established in court. An expungement offers you a chance to live your life without having to deal with the stigma or suspicion that comes with having a criminal record.
A successful application for expungement requires precise compliance with the legal requirements to be granted. Even if, by some miracle, a shoddy application scales through and the order is granted, the law stipulates that such orders are voidable within three years. This means that an expungement granted in your favor can be upturned within three years if the requirements of the law are not followed.
Having a skilled attorney represent you throughout the process reduces the likelihood of any mistakes in your paperwork that could lead to such an occurrence, and you can rest easy knowing that your expungement is final once it is granted.
Before beginning the process, an attorney can also assess your case to determine your eligibility for expungement. This can help save you time and money if you turn out to be ineligible. Your attorney may also help you find alternative legal procedures, such as ‘records sealing,’ that could help you achieve the same or similar results.
Contact Virginia Expungement Attorneys at Scrofano Law, PC
If you’re ready to begin your Virginia records expungement journey or have questions about Virginia criminal laws and penalties, you can contact us at Scrofano Law. We can answer your questions and do our best with our extensive expungement experience and knowledge to help you achieve the desired results.
Do not let your past deny you your dream job or school entry. Contact us today and schedule an initial consultation to discuss the next steps for your fresh start.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does the Expungement Process Take in Virginia?
Expungement time frames vary with each case. Cases where the petitioner received an absolute pardon or had suffered identity theft generally do not take long to resolve. But cases that involve a hearing may take longer since the court has to hear from both the petitioner and the state before making a decision.
Can I Get an Expungement for a Marijuana Conviction?
If you were arrested or convicted for a marijuana-related drug crime before its limited legalization in 2021, you might be able to get your record expunged under Virginia law. You can consult an experienced expungement attorney to help assess your status and determine whether you qualify.
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