Expungement of Arrest Records





When records of an arrest or conviction are sealed or expunged, a notation is made in the file that the records are off limits to all except law enforcement personnel. Defendants can then, for some purposes, treat the arrests or convictions as though they never happened. For example, assume that a defendant’s conviction for misdemeanor possession of an illegal drug is expunged. On applications for school, a job, or a professional license, the defendant may be able to answer that the defendant has no arrests or convictions (assuming no others exist). However, the rules about eligibility for expungement and the effect of expungement vary from state to state. Individuals interested in expungement should seek the advice of an experienced attorney or the staff of a community-based rehabilitation project that includes expungement as part of its everyday services.


The following general guidelines apply to many expungement programs:


  • Individuals have to apply in writing for expungement. Arrest and conviction records are not automatically expunged or sealed after a certain period of years.
  • Even if a conviction has been expunged, in some circumstances it can still be used to increase the severity of a sentence should a defendant again be convicted. For example, an expunged conviction may subject a defendant to a “three strikes” sentencing law.
  • Convictions cannot be expunged until about a year after they occur, and only if the defendant is done serving the sentence and is facing no new charges.
  • Not all convictions are eligible for expungement. For example, in many states defendants cannot expunge felony convictions or convictions involving sex offenses.
  • Juvenile and misdemeanor convictions are most often subject to expungement.
  • A defendant acquitted of a criminal charge may be able to have the records of the arrest and charge sealed immediately.


What should you do?

To seal or expunge an arrest you must Petition the Court in the State where you were arrested. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Virginia will help you quickly and easily clean your past criminal record. Don’t let the past interfere with the rest of your life. Clear up your criminal record by sealing or expunging it and prevent it from affecting your future. Contact us and we will be happy to help you.