Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Virginia

To get your adult criminal record expunged in Virginia, you must follow specific procedures to request the court to grant you a criminal expungement:

  1. You must file your completed “Petition for Expungement Filed in a Circuit Court – Acquittal/Dismissal” in the circuit court of the city or county where your charge was heard (i.e. – acquitted or dismissed). This must be filed along with any fees and costs, in the forms required by your particular jurisdiction (money order, certified check, etc), and, where required, you must file a “Cover Sheet for Filing Civil Actions.” Its filing code is CC-1416. The petition’s filing code is CC-1473. A pdf of form CC-1473 can be downloaded at the Virginia court site.
  2. You must obtain one complete set of fingerprints from a Virginia law enforcement agency and provide a copy of the CC-1473 expungement petition to that agency as well.
  3. You must serve a copy of the CC-1473 on the Commonwealth’s Attorney in the county or city in which you are planning on filing it.

The Application: The information necessary for completing the form is as follows:

  1. Case number
  2. Address information for the circuit court
  3. Your full name now and at the time of the arrest
  4. Your date of birth
  5. Name and number of the charge you wish to have expunged
  6. Description of the charge and its disposition, i.e. – how are you eligible for expungement now? – were you acquitted of the charge, or was it dismissed? If the latter, wht law was used to dismiss it?
  7. Copy of the arrest warrant and/or indictment to attach to the petition, with underlying case number
  8. Date of the final disposition (acquittal, etc) of the charge and the name of the court that disposed of it

On the CC-1473 itself, you are required to sign a statement that says: “The continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the arrest of the petitioner causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner. For this reason, I request that the police and court records, including electronic records, relating to the charge(s) be expunged and that a copy of any order of expungement be forwarded to the Department of State Police pursuant to subsection K of §19.2-392.2.” For more on the “manifest injustice” standard, read our article titled “Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Virginia”.

The petition must be filed in the circuit court of the county where the charge was acquitted or dismissed. Remember, your application is not complete unless it is filed along with a copy of the warrant or the indictment, and contains all of the information listed above including the date of arrest and the name of the arresting agency. Some courts in Virginia require cover sheets for most filing actions. To be sure, ask the court clerk where you plan on filing your petition if a Form CC-1416: Cover Sheet for Filing Civil Actions is required.

Fingerprints: You must have a complete set of fingerprints run by any law enforcement agency in Virginia. The agency must be provided with a copy of your petition/application for expungement. The agency will then submit the set of fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) along with the required copy of the petition. After the CCRE receives and processes your data, it will look through the criminal records for any other evidence of your criminal history and forward its report to the court, along with the fingerprints. Your fingerprint card is returned after the court hearing.

The Service: Copy of any petition for criminal record expungement must be sent to the attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the area you’re filing the petition. The attorney has three weeks to file an objection or an answer to your petition, though s/he is not required to answer. There is no hearing necessary if the Commonwealth’s Attorney doesn’t object to your expungement request. If the Commonwealth’s Attorney does object to it, then you will have to explain your case to the judge at hearing. You should try to be prepared for this possibility at all times, as you will have the burden of showing the manifest injustice of keeping your record public, given the circumstances. Talk about the ways in which the record has specifically caused you serious problems – especially in basic areas of life like housing and employment. You should talk about your life and how your behavior has been exemplary – even for someone with no record. Talk about what you have done since the arrest, what you plan to do the rest of your life if the expungement is granted, and what you and those you care about cannot achieve right now in your life, due to this record being available and open to the public. Don’t just talk about missed opportunities: provide lots of documentation proving it. This method is never 100%, but with the right argument, you can win against the objection.

Be sure your case is researched thoroughly so that you don’t end up just wasting time and money in filing a deficit petition. You would be wise to hire an attorney with knowledge and experience in filing your petition properly.  

For other articles on Virginia expungement of criminal records, click on the following:

Overview of Virginia Criminal History Record Expungements
Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal records in Virginia
Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Virginia
Process for Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Virginia
Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge My Criminal Record in Virginia?