In Virginia, when a person is arrested a warrant or issued a traffic summons, that warrant or summons is logged into different criminal record exchanges and becomes part of that persons permanent criminal record. Even if the charge is dismissed by nolle prosecqui, (which means the Commonwealth chose not to prosecute) or is dismissed by acquittal, the criminal charge remains on the persons permanent criminal record as a dismissed charge. Anyone running a criminal record check can determine if a person was ever charged with a crime even if the charge was dismissed.
Under Virginia Code § 19.2-392.2, a person qualifies for an expungement if he or she is acquitted of a criminal offense, the Commonwealth takes a nolle prosequi the criminal charge, or “is otherwise dismissed.” Additionally, a person is eligible for an expungement of a criminal offense upon presenting evidence to the court that the criminal charge arose as a result of identity theft. The first step for those seeking expungement in Virginia is to file a Petition for Expungement. It explains the relevant facts of the charge and the reason the person is eligible to have the charge expunged.
Being able to get a charge expunged can be very important, particularly for young adults, because it provides an opportunity to have something permanently removed from their criminal record. Essentially, it would be as if they were never even charged.
The procedure for obtaining an expungement can be somewhat complicated. The Commonwealth of Virginia is, essentially, the defendant in the suit for expungement and the Commonwealth must be notified (by service) and they have a right to object or contest the expungement. In many cases, the Court is not required to expunge a charge, but instead, has discretion as to whether a charge will be expunged. Having an experienced attorney to help in all stages of the expungement process can be very important to successfully removing a charge from a persons criminal record.
In the twenty-first century with so much information available on the Internet, a growing number of people, including potential employers, have access to criminal records. Such information can be used to deny employment or deny living arrangements to innocent people. If you have any charge on your record that was dismissed by nolle prosequi or otherwise dismissed, contact us to set up a free consultation. You will be able to start the proceedings that can wipe your slate clean in the Commonwealth of Virginia.