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Expungement – I Have a Criminal Charge on My Record: Now What?

by J.D. Garrett on October 3, 2013

Do you have an arrest and criminal charges on your record? An arrest and criminal charge on a person’s record, even without a conviction, often complicates many aspects of life, such as traveling, getting a job, and relocating to a new area. After a person is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she may wonder how to get the arrest and charge off of his or her record. However, starting over with a clean slate is not as easy as one may hope. Ultimately, Virginia criminal procedure law governs the complicated process of expunging arrests and criminal charges from a person’s record.

Expunging a Criminal Record

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Expungement is the process of removing an arrest and charge from a person’s record when the charge did not result in a criminal conviction. A person with a criminal conviction cannot expunge a conviction from his or her record unless the conviction was absolutely pardoned or was later overturned. When an arrest and charge is expunged from a person’s record, it is not destroyed. However, the arrest and charges are sealed from public view, and may only be seen by law enforcement by court order.

Eligibility for Obtaining an Expungement

Virginia criminal procedure law governs expungement of police and court records. Under 19.2-392.2 of the Code of Virginia, there are several cases in which a person is entitled to obtain an expungement of criminal charges: (1) if the person is charged with committing a crime but is later acquitted of the crime; (2) if the person is charged with committing a crime and a nolle prosequi is taken or the charge is otherwise dismissed; (3) when the person was the victim of an identity theft for the purposes of the charges; and (4) when the person was charged for assault or battery or another misdemeanor that could also be prosecuted in civil court, and the victim states in writing that he or she has been satisfied and the case has been dismissed.

It is important to note that a person is acquitted when a jury or judge determines that he or she is not guilty of the crime he or she was charged with after he or she pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Nolle prosequi is the term used when the prosecutor decides not to prosecute the charges at all.

The Expungement Process

A person who is entitled to obtain an expungement may petition the court for one. The attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia may not agree to the expungement. In that case, the judge will have to make a determination as to whether the petitioner’s record should be sealed or not. An expungement is not automatically granted even when the petitioner fits into one of the eligible categories under the statute. It is therefore important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in expungements for the best likelihood of success in obtaining an expungement.

If you have been charged or convicted of a crime and you are seeking to obtain an expungement, you should have an experienced attorney on your side. Contact the experienced attorneys at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.

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