How Can I Get My Virginia Conviction Expunged?
One of the most frequent calls Virginia lawyers receive are about expungements. Would-be employees learn that a criminal conviction impacts their ability for employment so they want to know how to remove it. Unfortunately, the question usually comes too late.
INTRODUCTIONOne of the most frequent calls Virginia lawyers receive are about expungements. Would-be employees learn that a criminal conviction impacts their ability for employment so they want to know how to remove it. Unfortunately, the question usually comes too late. There are only three reasons a charge can be expunged in Virginia - but none of them apply to a guilty plea.
EXPUNGEMENT QUALIFICATIONSUnder Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.2, a Virginia criminal charge can be expunged if the defendant is found not guilty, the charge is nolle prossed, or if the charge is otherwise dismissed. A not guilty at a trial on the merits qualifies for expungement, whether by a jury trial or a bench trial by a judge. A nolle prosequoi can be taken by the Commonwealth upon a showing of good cause, and it qualifies for expungement as well. The issue of whether a charge is "otherwise dismissed" is a bit more challenging. Clearly if a charge is dismissed by the judge on a motion to strike or motion to set aside the verdict, the charge would qualify for dismissal. But there are certain dismissals that do not qualify for expungement, such as first offender statutes for drug possession and domestic assault. Despite the negatives, there may also be a positive view of "otherwise dismissed." The Fairfax Circuit Court expunged a charge of reckless driving where the defendant pleaded to a simple speeding charge. The court reasoned that the guilty finding of a traffic offense necessarily meant that the misdemeanor charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and, therefore, was "otherwise dismissed."
GUILTY FINDINGS DO NOT QUALIFY FOR EXPUNGEMENTUnfortunately, guilty findings in Virginia, whether by plea agreement or a finding of guilt at trial, do not qualify for expungement. A Virginia criminal conviction remains on your criminal history for life. There is no time limit for a criminal conviction remaining on the criminal record (which is the most often asked question about expungement of convictions). The only exception to this is where the Governor of Virginia issues a pardon for the offender. Pardons are extremely rare and require exceptional circumstances or some political advantage to the Governor. Absent a pardon, there is no removal of your criminal history.
HIRE A LAWYER TO FIGHT THE NEED FOR EXPUNGEMENTThe best practice is to hire a lawyer so that you can try your best not to need an expungement. There are several courts that have a bailiff or some court officer give certain information before court begins. In there statement to the court attendees, they often state that "most people waive their right to an attorney on misdemeanors." And they are right. But that is also why most people are found guilty of misdemeanors. If people were aware that there was no time limit that their misdemeanor conviction remained on their criminal history, therefore impacting employment, credit applications, etc., I suspect that many more people would not waive their rights to an attorney. If you are looking for an experienced Virginia criminal attorney, call the offices of RANDALL PAGE, P.C. We have the experience to assist you in every aspect of your defense.