MAJOR change to post conviction practice and the law of actual innocence! New options in Virginia for clearing your record even when you have plead guilty to a crime.

A question we get nearly every week from people with convictions long in their past is whether they can get them stricken from their record. Ordinarily, no, a criminal conviction in Virginia will remain on your record and come up on various background checks (depending on how deep and far back the search goes).

However, Virginia also provides for means of overturning convictions when there is newly discovered evidence that was not available before trial, the writ of actual innocence.

For years, this option was only available when a person pleaded not guilty and went to trial. Clients who were unable to secure evidence that would show they were factually innocent of accusations against them risked losing their freedom forever except by pleading guilty to something they never did.

However, in a major change to this law Governor Northam signed legislation April 9th allowing this remedy even when a person pleads guilty. The requirement that evidence be “newly” discovered still applies—it is not available to re-litigate a case whose outcome you disagree with. But, for example, a person who retracts their statement or evidence secreted away or hidden from you before can now be used.

This change will go into effect on July 1, but, with the time it takes to prepare matters ahead of submitting a petition for a writ of actual innocence, it is a good idea to act now if you are aware of newly discovered evidence.

If you or someone you love was wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit, and evidence is now available that will prove their innocence, call or email the attorneys today at Winslow & McCurry at 804-423-1382 or, and we can help you navigate around the procedural hurdles to clearing your name!