Can my criminal record be expunged?

I’ve had a couple of phone calls in the past few weeks from people who want to have their records expunged.  Both of these were for petty larceny convictions which started as felony shoplifting.  The person took the advice of their friends and pled guilty, got a small fine, and thought they were off the hook.

Fast forward 8 or 10 years, and these same people now want to rent an apartment.  Surprise! The apartment manager did a criminal background check and found the petty larceny charge.

I had another call from someone who had a brush with the police over 40 years ago and it is now keeping him from getting a job.

Bad credit stays on your credit report for 7 years.  Even a financial judgment or bankruptcy falls off eventually.  In Virginia, criminal convictions stay on your record forever!

But what about an expungement?  An expungement is a civil process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed, generally after the expiration of time.  Each state has its own process and time frame.  In Virginia the time frame for sealing or destroying record of a criminal conviction is NEVER.  That’s right.  In Virginia, if you are found guilty of a crime, or if you plead guilty to a crime, that criminal record will remain forever and cannot be expunged.

Is there an expungement process in Virginia?  The answer to that is Yes.  But the only way a criminal record can be expunged in Virginia is if the criminal arrest was not finalized by a guilty verdict in any form.

So, if you were arrested but never tried; or if you were arrested and tried but found not guilty, then the expungement process might help you get that arrest off of your record.

But, if there was a guilty plea, or the Judge found that there was evidence sufficient to find you guilty, the charge cannot be expunged.  This happens even if you have a deferred or first offender status disposition that results in a dismissal after you do whatever you are ordered to do (usually a class of some sort and a period of time during which you get no new charges).

And if you are arrested for anything, it is always a good idea to get an attorney.  You may not be aware of all of the consequences that can keep coming back to haunt even you years later!

You can contact Beavers Law, P.C. by calling our office at 757-234-4650 or by visiting us on the web at

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