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When can one seek an expungement in Virginia?

When a person in Virginia is charged with a crime, he or she will incur a criminal record. Even if the person is ultimately acquitted, those who perform a background check can still learn that the person had been charged with a crime. This could present problems in the life of the accused. Therefore, they may seek to have their criminal record expunged.

In Virginia, a person's criminal record can be expunged only in very limited circumstances. If a person is acquitted of the charges against him or her, he or she may request an expungement of his or her criminal record. In addition, a person may seek an expungement of his or her criminal charges if his case ended in nolle prosequi or a dismissal of the charges against him or her. A nolle prosequi means that the prosecution decided to abandon the charge against the accused.

Essentially, Virginia law only permits expungement when the accused is found innocent. This means that if a person is found guilty of the charges they face, they cannot have their criminal record expunged. This is even true if the accused took a plea bargain, as doing so means they are pleading guilty. In addition, it must be found that having a criminal record is causing the accused to suffer a "manifest injustice."

These are high standards to meet. Having a criminal record can significantly impact one's life. It could limit their housing options or job opportunities, along with any other situation that requires a criminal background check. An expungement can prevent certain people from being able to view one's criminal record. Therefore, those who wish to pursue an expungement of their criminal record will want to ensure they follow all the correct procedures in doing so, and that they have a compelling argument in favor of expungement.

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Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White
30 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

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