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Expungements in Virginia

What is an Expungement in Virginia?

Applying for a job and concerned about what they will find? Want to clean up your record?  Call us to help you navigate the expungement process. An expungement is a civil process through which we petition the court to remove any arrests and dismissed charges from your record.  

It should be noted that these records are not technically “destroyed”, but rather removed from public view.  This means that while they will not show up on background checks, they can still be obtained if someone, like a police officer, petitions the court to view them and a judge grants their petition. This however is extremely unusual and someone would have to know the records were there to petition for them.

Am I Eligible to Get an Expungement in Virginia?

The Commonwealth of Virginia has very strict laws regarding the expungement of criminal records. In Virginia, convictions are FOREVER. Virginia's expungement law offers relief only for those charged but never convicted.

If you went to trial and pled not guilty, and were found not guilty, then your charge can be expunged. If your charge was dismissed before trial, you can have that charge expunged. In both of these situations you have an actual claim of innocence.

Virginia requires a claim of “actual innocence,” meaning not only must your charge have been dismissed, it must have been dismissed in the correct way.

Charges / Arrests that CAN be Expunged in Virginia:

Dismissals with prejudice

Dismissals without prejudice (in VA often referred to as “nolle prosequi”)

Dismissals by accord and satisfaction

Not guilty findings

Arrests that did not lead to a conviction

Charges for which you later receive an “absolute pardon”

Charges on your record which were a case of mistaken identity or identity fraud


Charges/Arrests that Can NOT be Expunged in Virginia:

If you were found guilty after a trial

If you were found guilty pursuant to a plea agreement

If you were found guilty after a “Nolo Contendere”, “No Contest”, or “Alford plea

ANY Conviction at all

Dismissal through a formal first offender program 


Dismissal Through A Formal First Offender Program

However, if your charge was dismissed through a first offender program, the two most common being for domestic assault and battery and first offender for possession of marijuana or other drug, then your charge may NOT be expunged.

To enter into a first offender program in Virginia, you must make a legal stipulation that the prosecution's evidence would have been sufficient to convict you if it had been presented to the court. In short, you have no actual claim of innocence and so are not entitled to receive an expungement under Virginia law.

This is something that is often not explained to defendant's before they enter into these programs despite the fact that it can have lasting consequences on their lives and careers.

Alternatives to First Offender that do NOT Prevent me from getting an Expungement in VA

This is often why a good defense attorney will try to work out an “informal agreement” with the prosecutor, that does not require a formal stipulation. These are just what they sound like, informal agreements between your attorney and the prosecutor whereby if you complete certain things before your court date (normally community service, drug screens, an anger management class, etc) then on the day of court the prosecutor will nolle prosequi your charge - making you eligible for an expungement.

How many years do I have to wait in Virginia to have my conviction Expunged?

Unlike many other states, Virginia has no set number of years to wait that will make you eligible for an expungement. If you are convicted of a criminal offense in Virginia then that charge will stay on your record forever.

Because of this it is important to speak with an attorney about your options for expungement BEFORE entering into any sort of plea or agreement on a criminal charge.

Still not Sure if you qualify for an Expungement? Want to get started?

Call today to speak with an experienced Virginia expungement attorney and schedule a free consultation. Most expungements will cost around $1,500, although each case differs according to the individual facts and circumstances, and the jurisdiction.


VA Drug First Offender Program

VA Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges

Criminal Court Process in Virginia

Arraignments in Virginia

Virginia Expungement Law

Alexandria Criminal Defense

The Different Virginia Courts

Court Process in Virginia

Areas We Serve

Virginia, and Washington, DC.