A criminal conviction will have a long-term impact on your opportunities. Your criminal record will limit what schools you can attend, the jobs you can obtain and the houses you can rent. If it has been some time since your criminal offense, you may have started to wonder whether sealing or expunging your record may be an option.
Until recently, Virginia only allowed expungements for dismissed charges, meaning that those who plead guilty or who got convicted in court had no options for improving their records. However, now the expungement law has changed, allowing more people to qualify for an expungement. Who can ask the Virginia courts to seal their records?
Those convicted of certain offenses may now qualify
Dismissed charges won’t be the only kind of charges that you can remove from your permanent criminal record or at least the public view of those records.
Now, you can expunge Class 5 or Class 6 felony convictions and misdemeanor convictions along with dismissed charges. Grand larceny, which the state does not classify as a specific kind of criminal offense, is also eligible for expungement in some cases.
What are the limits on who can expunge part or all of their criminal record?
Not just anyone can petition the courts to seal or remove part of their criminal record. Those convicted of a Class 1 or Class 2 felony at any point in their lives will not qualify for an expungement. Those with a Class 3 or Class 4 felony on their record from within the last 10 years also will not qualify.
Beyond that, you have to have gone at least seven years without any convictions in Virginia or elsewhere and at least 10 years without any felony convictions. Those hoping to expunge a drug- or alcohol-related offense will have to prove that they have completed treatment or undergone rehabilitation. The state also limits you to two expungements in your life, so you will have to prove that you have not already received both of them in order to be eligible for one now.
Learning the basics of the Virginia expungement system could help you put a criminal charge behind you and open you up to a brighter future.