An arrest record can hinder your ability to obtain a good-paying job, find safe housing, or advance your education. If you have been arrested for a crime in Virginia or Washington, D.C., but you were not convicted, you may want to pursue an expungement so that the police and court records relating to your arrest are sealed. This means that you can honestly answer "no" when asked if you have been arrested for a crime.
The records are not destroyed, however, and law enforcement may still access them with an ex-parte court order if you are seeking employment with a law enforcement agency or if an "investigation will be jeopardized or that life or property will be endangered without immediate access to the record," according to the Code of Virginia § 19.2-392.3.
If you qualify for an expungement, the experienced attorneys at S.L. England, PLLC, can handle the court process for you from start to finish.
Who Qualifies for Expungement?
You have the right to petition the court for an expungement if you were acquitted of the charge if nolle prosequi was taken, if you received an absolute pardon, or if the criminal charges were otherwise dismissed. You may also petition for expungement if another person was arrested for a crime while using your identity.
The Code of Virginia § 19.2-392.2 specifies how a person must petition the court for an expungement.
The expungement process begins with filing a petition in the Circuit Court that handled your original case. The petition must include your full name at the time of your arrest, your date of birth, the date of your arrest, the arresting agency, the specific criminal charge, and the date of the final disposition of the charge. The Circuit Court schedules a hearing date for the expungement.
The Commonwealth's Attorney is named as the Defendant, and he is served with a copy of the petition. He has 21 days file his response stating if he objects to the expungement.
Between filing the petition and the hearing, you must be fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency. You take a copy of your petition with you, and the law enforcement agency submits this along with your fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange for a criminal history record for the court.
At the hearing, the judge determines if he will grant the expungement. If he issues an Order of Expungement, the Clerk of Court forwards a copy to the State Police, who seal your criminal record related to the charge. If the court denies the expungement, your criminal record continues to exist.
Do You Need an Expungement in Virginia?
If you were arrested for a crime in Virginia or Washington, D.C., but you were acquitted or your charges were otherwise dropped, you may benefit from an expungement. An experienced litigator from S.L. England, PLLC, can represent you from filing the petition for expungement with the Circuit Court to the final hearing. If you have questions about the expungement process, or if you are ready to file a petition, call us today at (202) 489-0720 or contact us online.