Most of us have made mistakes that thankfully avoided serious consequences. However, some of us experienced legal repercussions for those mistakes, which can have long-lasting and sometimes devastating impacts on future employment searches and job opportunities. We will often meet with a potential client who made a mistake when they were younger and now wants to know what they can do to fix it. The answer will often depend on the circumstances of each case.
Expungement is a process under Virginia law where a court can remove certain charges from a person’s criminal record. However, the category of “expungable” offenses is limited by law. You can ask a court to expunge your record if one of two things happened: a) you were tried and found not guilty, or b) the prosecutor dismissed the charges. If a person meets these criteria, they will have to file a petition in the Circuit Court where the charge was dismissed.
What happens next depends on the type of charge. If the charge dismissed was a misdemeanor and a person has no prior criminal record, the Court may grant the expungement without a hearing if the local Commonwealth Attorney office does not object or he or she cannot demonstrate good cause. If the Commonwealth Attorney objects (which tends to be the case for more serious felonies that were dismissed) a hearing will have to be held where the Court will have to find that having the charge on an individual’s records is a “manifest injustice” to the petitioner.
Expungement is not an option to someone convicted of a crime. However, there are rare exceptions whereby a person may receive a simple or absolute pardon. But that’s a topic for another blog post.
Expungement proceedings can be complex and should be initiated with competent legal counsel.
For more information about any of the above, or for any family law, criminal law or personal injury matter, please contact the firm.
This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.