If you are arrested by the police in Virginia, you will have a permanent criminal record of the arrest, even if you are not prosecuted or convicted. This could have long-term consequences in your ability to obtain a job, housing, and more. However, you may be able to clear your criminal record by obtaining an expungement of the arrest.
What Is an Expungement?
An expungement is the process of removing a criminal charge from your criminal record. The charge would still be there and could be viewed by the police with court permission. However, the charge would be sealed from public view, and you would not have to disclose the arrest to employers, financial institutions, governmental agencies, and others.
When Can You Get an Expungement If You Are Acquitted of a Crime?
You do not have an automatic right to have an arrest expunged from your criminal record, even if you are acquitted of committing the crime. You would need to file a petition requesting an expungement and attend a hearing where the judge would decide whether or not to grant your request. The prosecutor would have a right to object to your petition at the hearing.
There is no statute in Virginia on when a person should be granted an expungement after being found not guilty, but there is case law decided by the Virginia Supreme Court that states when a criminal arrest should be expunged. Your criminal arrest should be expunged if you can show that it would be manifest injustice for the arrest to stay on your criminal record. You can do this by establishing the following:
- How having a criminal record would prejudice you in the future
- How the criminal record may affect your ability to obtain employment, housing, or credit or how it already affected these areas of your life.
It may be easier to obtain an expungement if you were acquitted of one misdemeanor offense than if you were charged with a felony or multiple offenses.
How to Give Yourself the Best Chance of Obtaining an Expungement
If you want the fresh start on your life that an expungement can give you, you need the help of an experienced expungement lawyer to file your petition and help you prove that you would suffer manifest injustice if your criminal arrest is not expunged from your record. Start a live chat or call my Manassas office to learn how I can help you fight to get your acquittal removed from your criminal record.