Because the police and prosecutors sometimes arrest and prosecute without getting a conviction, and having an arrest record for any crime is not conducive to obtaining the job you are seeking, the General Assembly has devised a way to remove this blemish from your criminal record. It is called an Expungement.
To be eligible for an expungement , your charge had to be based on a crime contained in Title 18.2 of the Virginia Code. Further, you must have been acquitted, or the prosecution took a “nolle prosequi” or the charge was otherwise dismissed, including a dismissal by accord and satisfaction.
Expunging the police and court records require filing a petition explaining the salient facts. In addition to filing the petition with the Circuit Court, a petitioner must obtain a complete set of fingerprints from a law-enforcement agency and provide that agency with a copy of the petition for expungement. The law-enforcement agency then submits the fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) with a copy of the petition and the CCRE then forwards to the Circuit Court a copy of the petitioner’s criminal history, a copy of the source documents that resulted in the CCRE entry that the petitioner wishes to expunge, and the set of fingerprints. After the Circuit Court receives the information from CCRE, the court will conduct a hearing to determine if the continued existence of the charge on the petitioner’s record and the dissemination of the information related to the charge causes or may cause a “manifest injustice” to the petitioner. Upon this finding, the Court will enter an order requiring the expungement of police and court records, including electronic records.
For anyone charged with a misdemeanor, and the petitioner has no prior criminal record, the petition is entitled to a an expungement unless the Commonwealth can show good cause as to why the charge should not be expunged. Should you be the unfortunate person arrested by the cops and then, a bit too late to save your reputation, the Court finds that you are not the person the cops should have arrested or charged, you are entitled to an expungement. The Court is required to enter an order expunging all police and court records if you receive an absolute pardon for the commission of a crime that you did not commit. Additionally, anyone receiving a writ vacating a conviction pursuant to § 19.2-327.5 or § 19.2-327.13, the court is required to enter an order expunging your record.
No one may have access to any expunged court or police record, nor may anyone disclose to another person information in regarding the expunged record without a court order. Moreover, no employer or educational institution can require an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information concerning any arrest or criminal charge against that has been expunged. If asked a question relating to the expunged record, you need not answer.