Expungement of Criminal Records
In Virginia, under certain circumstances a person charged with a criminal offense may remove the police and court records relating to the charge. An expungement of an arrest record requires filing of a petition with the Court.
An expungement can only be granted if either: (a) the individual was acquitted of the offense (i.e. found not guilty), (b) the prosecutor requested the court to dismiss the charge, or (c) the charge must have been "otherwise dismissed". Even if the case was dismissed by the court, an expungement will not be granted if the individual pled guilty to the offense or the Court found there to be sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt.
An expungement will not be granted in cases of a "deferred disposition" in which the court dismissed a charge after an individual completes certain actions within a timeframe set by the Court (i.e. complete community service, attend ASAP class, etc.) if the deferred disposition requires a plea of guilty or the Court finds sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt. A plea of "no contest" may also prevent an expungement.
While the Commonwealth Attorney can agree or object to an expungement, it is granted at the discretion of the Court based upon "good cause" shown. In addition to meeting the criteria for expungement, the Court must also find that the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the charge causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the individual. Generally the Court requires that an individual have no prior criminal record similar to the charge that is being expunged.
If an expungement is granted, the record of the arrest will be removed entirely from the records of the Court, the local/county police, and the federal Department of Criminal Justice Services.
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