Out of concern about the impact an arrest record might have on an innocent person, the Virginia General Assembly has taken steps to allow for the expungement of an arrest from public record. However, this option is not available to everyone. An experienced criminal defense attorney could review your case and advise you if you qualify.
The process of obtaining an expungement is complicated and requires appearing in court. While you have the right to pursue an expungement on your own, you may benefit from the experience and insight of a Culpeper expungement lawyer.
Expungement can mean different things depending on the location. Some jurisdictions allow for defendants that are convicted of certain crimes to have their criminal records cleared of any mention of the conviction. In Virginia, however, expungement is reserved for cases where a person was either acquitted of all charges, or the prosecutor dismissed the case against them.
When a defendant prevails at trial, there will be no criminal conviction entered into their permanent record. However, the record of a person’s arrest will remain on their record even in cases of acquittal or dismissal.
Expunging an arrest record can be valuable, given that it will otherwise show up in most background checks, which can be a major complication for an innocent person when they seek employment or housing. Expunging an arrest record removes an unfair hurdle many innocent Culpeper residents must deal with.
Whether a court will grant an expungement depends on the specific circumstances. In cases involving a defendant with no prior convictions seeking the expungement of a misdemeanor arrest, the court must order the expungement unless the Commonwealth provides good cause why the court should not expunge the arrest.
In more serious cases, however, the burden is on the defendant. In cases involving felony arrests or defendants with prior convictions, the person pursuing the expungement must show the existence and dissemination of arrest information could cause manifest injustice. For more information, contact a knowledgeable lawyer.
An expungement is not available to everyone. Virginia Statute 19.2-392.2 sets out the parties entitled to seek an expungement. They include:
There are some additional exceptions to consider. First and foremost, a defendant must maintain their innocence through the entire process. If they plead guilty or no contest, they can no longer claim innocence and will not be eligible for expungement. Expungements are also available following an absolute pardon or in some cases of identity theft. Contact a Culpeper expungement attorney to discuss these exceptions in detail.
To begin the process, a Culpeper expungement lawyer must file a petition seeking the expungement on behalf of the individual. After filing the petition and paying the filing fee, the court may require a hearing to consider if the petitioner is entitled to an expungement. The hearing provides both the petitioner and the Commonwealth to present evidence if they choose. After the hearing, the judge will make a determination and issue a ruling.
Navigating the process of obtaining an expungement can be challenging for anyone without legal experience. Petitioning for an expungement requires you navigate the court filing process, deal with Commonwealth attorneys, and argue your case in front of a judge.
While you have the right to take on your expungement by yourself, you might benefit from the guidance of an experienced Culpeper expungement lawyer. Call right away to schedule an initial consultation.