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Expungement in Virginia

If you were charged with a crime in Virginia, you may be wondering whether your case may be eligible for expungement.  The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Krum Gergely & Oates can help.

Is my case eligible for expungement?

Virginia law limits the cases eligible for expungement to only those cases that were dismissed, nolle prosequi’d, or in which the defendant was found not guilty.  This means that, if you pleaded guilty or were found guilty of a crime in Virginia, your case cannot be expunged, no matter how minor the crime or how long ago it happened.  The Virginia law concerning expungement is found in section 19.2-392.2 of the Virginia Code.

The only exception is if your name and identification was used by another person who was charged with a crime in Virginia.  If your identity was stolen in this way, you are also permitted to petition the Circuit Court for expungement.

The expungement process

In Virginia, the expungement process begins with a petition in the Circuit Court for the jurisdiction where the case occurred.  The petition must include the relevant facts and request that the Court expunge the police and court records relating to the charge.

There are a number of steps that must be completed in addition to filing your petition in the Circuit Court, however.  First, you must obtain a set of your fingerprints.  You can obtain a set of your fingerprints at any sheriff’s office in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You may need to make an appointment in advance, so check online before you go.  There may be a small charge for this service, as well.

The law enforcement agency that took your fingerprints must then submit the fingerprints and a copy of your petition for expungement to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE).  After it receives your fingerprints and your petition, the CCRE must send records to the Circuit Court for the hearing.

Finally, once it receives your fingerprint card, criminal record, and petition, the Circuit Court must conduct a hearing on the expungement petition.  In order to grant your petition, the Court must find that “the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the arrest of the petitioner causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner.”  Va. Code section 19.2-392.2(F).  However, if you (the petitioner) have no prior criminal record and the charge was a misdemeanor or a civil offense, then you are entitled to have the matter expunged, unless the Commonwealth objects.

Do I need a lawyer to obtain an expungement?

There is no requirement that you hire a lawyer in order to have a case expunged in Virginia, but the help of a skilled attorney like those at Krum Gergely & Oates can make the process easier.  In order to have a case expunged, a formal petition must be filed in the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction of the underlying case, so having a lawyer draft that petition may provide you with peace of mind.  Having a lawyer draft your petition should reassure you that the necessary language is included to increase your chances of success.

In addition, expungement requires a full hearing in the local Circuit Court of the jurisdiction where you were charged for the underlying case.  Going to court and making an argument to a judge is a stressful, scary, intimidating idea for most people.  If you hire a lawyer, you still have to attend the hearing in the Circuit Court but it should be less stressful because you will have a legal professional by your side, in your corner, who understands the process and can guide you through it.

For these reasons, many people choose to engage an attorney to help them with the expungement process.  Call the experienced litigators at Krum Gergely & Oates today for a free consultation about your expungement and see the difference that skilled counsel can make.