How an Attorney Can Help You Clear Your Criminal Record in Virginia

criminal defense attorney going over criminal record

A criminal conviction can turn your life upside down, making it challenging to find employment and housing and secure financial and educational opportunities. It can also significantly impact your personal and professional relationships. Once you’ve paid the penalties, is there any way to start fresh with a clean slate? Depending on the nature of your conviction, you may be eligible to file for an expungement.

What Is Expungement? 

Expungement is a legal process that seals the record of an individual’s arrest on criminal charges that didn’t lead to a conviction. Expunging a criminal record means the charge is removed from public records and limits the agencies that can discover the arrest through a background check. Very few agencies can access the sealed criminal record, which can only be sought under specific conditions. 

Expungement gives individuals a clean slate, allowing them to start fresh without being haunted by a past criminal charge or conviction. When a violation gets expunged, potential employers, creditors, and landlords cannot see the offense. Individuals with an expungement do not have to disclose their previous arrest or conviction on applications or during interviews. 

Conditions for a Virginia Expungement 

Current Virginia law allows you to apply for an expungement if you meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • You were acquitted of the offense
  • The government decided not to prosecute you
  • You received a pardon following a conviction 
  • The charges against you were dismissed
  • Someone else committed the crime using your identity 

However, changes to the expungement process set to take effect in 2025 expand these eligibility requirements. Under the new rules, some individuals may qualify for an automatic expungement of their misdemeanor conviction.

Individuals not meeting the above criteria can formally apply for expungement if they were convicted of misdemeanor crimes more than seven years ago. The individual must also meet other criteria, including:

  • They were not convicted of a separate crime ineligible for automatic expungement 
  • They were not convicted of any crime other than a traffic violation anywhere in the U.S. within seven years of their conviction

The list of misdemeanor convictions that may make an individual eligible for expungement when the new law goes into effect includes:

  • Concealment
  • Petit larceny
  • Underage alcohol possession
  • Marijuana possession
  • Marijuana possession with intent to distribute
  • Trespassing on private property
  • Disorderly conduct

The new expungement rules will also allow those convicted of Class 5, Class 6, and felony larceny offenses to seek expungement if they meet specific criteria. Additionally, the new law will allow those who received deferral-dismissals for marijuana possession or underage alcohol possession to have their records automatically expunged.

Changes to Virginia’s expungement process will make it easier for countless residents to move forward with expanded opportunities and reduced stress following certain criminal charges and convictions.

Why You Need an Attorney to Help with Your Expungement

Given the upcoming changes to Virginia’s laws, understanding expungement eligibility requirements can be confusing. An experienced criminal defense attorney can determine your eligibility for expungement, guide you through the process, and prepare a compelling application on your behalf that offers you the best chance at obtaining the favorable result you need. 

Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today for Help with Expungement 

Are you ready for a clean slate? Let the experienced criminal defense team at Surovell, Isaacs & Levy, PLC, help guide you through the complicated expungement process. Contact our office today to arrange a legal consultation to discuss your situation and learn more about how we can help you move forward and put a criminal charge or conviction behind you.

Posted in: Criminal Law