Expungement is a cleansing of your criminal record. You may request an expungement if you are charged with a crime and are found not guilty, a nolle prosequi is taken, or the charge is otherwise dismissed. If the court grants the expungement, this charge will not appear when someone runs a background check on you. Conversely, if the charge is dismissed and you don’t get an expungement, the charge will appear on your record but it will show that the charge was dismissed. You can also request an expungement when someone uses your identification without your consent and is charged with a crime.
If you can prove that the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to your arrest causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice, your request for an expungement of the police and court records will be granted. However, the burden shifts to the Commonwealth if you are charged with a misdemeanor and you have no prior criminal record. In that case, the court will grant your request for an expungement, unless the Commonwealth can show good cause why that is not appropriate.
There is no requirement that the expungement be filed within any certain period of time. I recommend to my clients that they proceed as soon as possible since there is no benefit in delaying. The process can take several months. By getting an expungement, the charge is completely removed from your criminal history so you avoid the necessity of having to explain it to a current or prospective employer. As a practical matter, if you have a clean record, you certainly do not want a charge to stay on your record when you are found not guilty.
If you have any further questions concerning an expungement, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have been practicing criminal law for over 30 years and would be happy to discuss any questions concerning criminal law. I routinely go to local courts including Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Newport News and Hampton.