Expungements: a way to prevent problems down the road

A question attorneys often get is whether a conviction goes on someone’s “permanent record.” In Virginia, every conviction—and, frequently, every charge—is entered into the National Crime Information Center’s central database for use by any law enforcement agency in the United States. This can include people whose names and identifying information was used by an identity thief.

Under Virginia law, a person who was not convicted of an offense is eligible to have the record of that arrest and prosecution expunged. If you were acquitted of an offense or if the case was dismissed, you have a right to file a petition in a court asking for an expungement.

It is the petitioner’s responsibility to explain to the court why his record should be expunged, and a number of other items must accompany your petition, such as your fingerprints and information identifying all the records to be destroyed.

Not every offense is one that can be expunged: a charge for which you were found guilty is not one that can be expunged—even for ones that are years or decades old. However, for those offenses that you were not convicted, avoiding the effect an arrest and trial can have on background checks, housing applications, credit checks, and employment applications can be critical to keeping your life on track.

If you were charged with a crime and the charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty in central Virginia, including Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover or the surrounding jurisdictions, and have questions about your options, please contact the criminal law attorneys at Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804) 423-1382.