Make Sure Your Case was Properly Dismissed Virginia is very particular when it comes to expungements. When you have had a criminal charge dismissed by nolle prosequi, by beating the charge at trial, or by amendment to a separate and distinct offense, then your case may be eligible for expungement. However, if your charge was dismissed under some deferral program (like under Va. Code Sec. 18.2-251), or if it was amended to a lesser included offense (like reduction of charged from grand larceny to petit larceny), then your case will not be eligible for expungement. Get the Proper Paperwork Go to the courthouse in which your case was held and visit the clerk's office of the court in which your case was heard (General District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations, or Circuit Court) and obtain a certified copy of the disposition of your case. Prepare and File a Petition and Order for Expungement Draft a petition requesting the expungement of your case, naming the Commonwealth of Virginia as the Respondent. Draft an order for the judge to sign granting your petition. Once those items are drafted, take them to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction in which your original case was heard, along with the disposition you retrieved in Step 2. You should bring 6 copies of each, along with cash or a check for filing and service fees. File with the clerk, have the Commonwealth served. Complete a Fingerprint Card Once the petition has been filed, take a date-stamped copy (the clerk's office will stamp it) down to the records department of your local police station. Ask to complete a fingerprint card, and be prepared to pay the $10 fee for a card. You will also need to bring 2 forms of ID with your name and date of birth, one of which must be a photo ID. Once you complete the prints, the police will send the card, along with a copy of the petition that you provide them, to the Virginia State Police to match the records. Wait . . . You will have to wait at least a few weeks for the records to be processed through VSP and returned to the court in which your expungement is pending. It is your duty to call the court to check and see when your records arrive. Set a Hearing Once the court has received your records from the State Police, you can then notice a hearing. Different jurisdictions have different procedures for this, so check your local Circuit Court rules. Prepare for the Hearing Just because your case was dismissed, or the charge against you was amended, does not mean that you are necessarily entitled to an expungement. In Virginia, you are entitled by law to an expungement if a misdemeanor offense was dismissed and you have no other criminal convictions. Even then, the Commonwealth has the opportunity to demonstrate "good cause" for the court to deny the expungement However, in any other circumstance, you must be prepared to demonstrate why the court should grant you an expungement. You must be prepared to demonstrate that the continued existence of this charge on your record creates or could create a manifest injustice. Attend the Hearing Go to your hearing and explain to the judge why your record should be expunged. HIRE A LAWYER A good lawyer can help make this process much easier by obtaining the necessary paperwork, drafting the petition and order, and preparing your case for an expungement hearing. Hiring an attorney can make an expungement much simpler. Also, it is worth noting that you only have one opportunity to do this, so you have to get it right!