Having an arrest record can negatively impact a person’s ability to secure employment, to obtain a clearance, to get admitted into college or university, to secure housing, and a variety of things.  Virginia law does not allow for expungement of records relating to criminal convictions. However, Virginia law does allow, in certain circumstances, for expungement of police and court records, including electronic records, relating to arrests when the person was not convicted.  This is important because it can help innocent people minimize the unfair negative impact of having an arrest record for an offense which was subsequently dismissed.

What is expungement? How does it work?

Expungement in Virginia is the legal process of removing police and court records, including electronic records, relating to arrests for charges which did not end in convictions.  Expungement is permitted in order to help people try to avoid the unfair and unjust negative consequences of having an arrest record for charges which were subsequently dismissed. Expungement of these damaging records is tremendously important because even though the person was not convicted, the mere presence of an arrest record can negatively impact a person when applying for a job, applying for a security clearance, applying for admission to a college or university, renting an apartment, or engaging in other activities which require a background check.  If you have been arrested, but you were not convicted, we suggest you pursue expungement of the records related to that arrest, so your previous arrest doesn’t continue to cause problems for you moving forward.   

Virginia law (§19.2-392.2) only allows expungement of these damaging arrest records in very specific circumstances.  Expungement of records relating to convictions is not permitted, regardless of the length of time which has passed since the conviction was entered.  In Virginia, expungement of arrest records is limited to records relating to charges which were dismissed, or which arose due to identity theft. More specifically, Virginia law allows expungement of arrest records under the following circumstances:

  • The person was acquitted / found not guilty.
  • A nolle prosequi was taken by the Prosecution.
  • The charge was dismissed by accord and satisfaction.
  • The charge was “otherwise dismissed”.
  • The person’s name or other identification was used without consent or authorization.
  • The person received an absolute pardon for a crime the person did not commit.
  • The person received a writ vacating a conviction.

The Wilson Law Firm can help you navigate and manage the Expungement process, which involves filing a petition in the Circuit Court, providing details regarding the arrest you want expunged, getting fingerprinted, and having your criminal history sent to the Court.  The Circuit Court will then conduct a hearing to determine if having the arrest on your record causes, or may cause, you a manifest injustice.  In doing so, the Circuit Court will consider your criminal history, if any, and whether the arrest was for a misdemeanor offense or a felony.  The Commonwealth must show good cause for not granting an expungement if you have no prior criminal history and the arrest was for a misdemeanor offense.  Otherwise, you must prove manifest injustice. If the Commonwealth does not object to the Petition for Expungement and stipulates to manifest injustice if the arrest was for a felony, then the Petition for Expungement can be granted without a hearing.

At The Wilson Law Firm, we believe everyone deserves a second chance and nobody should suffer consequences due to records relating to arrests for charges which were subsequently dismissed.  If you have been arrested for an offense which did not lead to a conviction, and you would like to have the records related to that arrest removed, we can help you evaluate your options to see if expungement is a possibility