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Can I still go to grad school/get a job with a dismissed misdemeanor?

Fairfax, VA |

I was charged with petty theft when I was 19. I went to court and since I had no prior record before was given an oportunity to go to a program and do community service. I had my picture and fingerprint taken however. I am thinking of going to medical school and was wondering if this could stop me from getting into the medical field or getting into grad school. I understand that VA wont expunge this since I pleaded no contest (?) but is there anyway I can get it seal or do anything? Do dismissed misdemeanors show up on background checks and is it as serious as a misdemeanor? Sorry for the questions

Attorney Answers 3


Yes, the arrest will appear on a criminal record check. I suspect you would be asked about arrests during the application process anyway, and since you would answer that question honestly it doesn't really matter whether it appears on the record since you would be providing the information.

The question of whether something is "serious" or not is a subjective question, the answer to which will depend on the person evaluating the information. Some people / institutions may find the arrest extremely serious, while others may find it far less serious. There is no way to know how serious any given person / institution will find this information.

Apply, be honest and see what happens.

DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided as general information and is not to be considered legal advice, nor does it constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship.

For important answers to other Frequently Asked Questions about DUI, Criminal and Traffic Offenses in Virginia, visit my website at:

T. Kevin Wilson, Esq.
The Wilson Law Firm
DUI, Criminal & Traffic Defense...When Results Matter
9300 Grant Avenue, Suite 301
Manassas, Virginia 20110

Telephone 888-DUI-LWYR
Telephone 703-361-6100
Facsimile 703-365-7988

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It sounds like you were convicted, but had no jail time. If that is so, then expungement is not possible. Also, it was a conviction involving lying, cheating or stealing. That is serious in many positions. However, if you address it early and explain what you learned, you may find a way to use it to your advantage.

[This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]

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Dear Sir/Madam,

Virginia law currently does not allow expungement of cases in which the defendant received First Offender Status because such sentences require "facts sufficient" to prove guilt. There are, however, other dispositions in which the Court dismisses a case after probation/community service without a finding of guilt. You should therefore verify whether you received First Offender Status, and are indeed ineligible for expungement. Regardless of your eligibility, you should request that the FBI update your record in their national CJIS database to reflect the dismissal. The FBI system is the database most commonly searched for background checks, including employment, graduate school and professional licensing. If expungement is not an option, you may also want to consider requesting a pardon.

Please see below more detailed information on each of these options:


I have written a Legal Guide on Virginia Expungement, which tells you how to access your record and I hope can answer your question in greater detail. Please click on the following link:


You will likely have a record with the FBI because of the fact that you were fingerprinted in conjunction with your arrest. Unfortunately, most state law enforcement agencies send only the arrest charges to the FBI and do not update the record to reflect the final disposition of the case. This often confuses graduate schools and employers who look at the record and mistakenly assume that an applicant was convicted of all charges from an arrest. It is therefore helpful to obtain a copy of your record, and then to request that the FBI update the information to show which charges are actual convictions and which were dismissed.


Finally, if you are ineligible for expungement, you may want to look into requesting a Pardon. This is a time-consuming process and does not expunge the record, but does help mitigate its effects. Please see the link below for more information on the Virginia Pardons. I am also in the process of drafting a Legal Guide on the subject, so please check back with soon.

Best of luck,
Lisa Manning

Lisa Manning, Esq.
1629 K Street, N.W.
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 905-2560
(202) 747-2880 fax

NOTE: This post provides general information on expungement. The information contained herein is not intended as legal advice, and you should therefore not act upon it before consulting with professional legal counsel. To obtain legal services from any law firm, including Record Absolutions, you must first establish an attorney-client relationship. This requires personal contact with us, and our determination that we are willing to take the engagement. Until all of these steps are complete, you have not hired an attorney and have not become a client of the firm. Thank you for your understanding.

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