Overview of Virginia Criminal History Record Expungements

In Virginia, to qualify for expungement (clearing) of your criminal history record, you must have been acquitted, found not guilty, or granted a pardon by the Governor. Expungement is also possible if the charges against you were dismissed, or if there was a case of mistaken identity. (Va Code Sec. 19.2-392.2). However, if you were convicted, you cannot have the police and court records expunged or sealed, no matter the charge (misdemeanor or felony). Once convicted, you will have a permanent criminal record.

Though expungement is a useful remedy, know that the expunged records are not destroyed. Expungement/sealing simply means that when someone searches your records, nothing will show up in their search results. This is a useful tool for anyone applying for jobs or trying to pursue education.

Note that in Virginia, expungement and sealing refer to the same process. The following articles use the term “expungement” but know that both refer to the same process: the removal of your criminal history record from public view. An exception is carved out for the Virginia courts and law enforcement personnel in particular: they can still access your criminal record in order to use it against you in court if you were arrested again. It’s also used by law enforcement personnel to show character or credibility in court proceedings, where needed.

Virginia has automatic expungement of a juvenile record, at age 19 or 29, depending on the offense and the length of time since your last hearing. Records that are ordered sealed/expunged from your juvenile criminal history are usually destroyed automatically.

The petition itself, called a CC-1473 or “Petition for Expungement Filed in a Circuit Court – Acquittal/Dismissal,” contains all the specific information you would need. The statement you must sign on it encapsulates the remedy you are seeking with expungement: “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.”

Most of the complications around getting your criminal record expunged in Virginia center on the court’s interpretation of the “manifest injustice” part of this statement, in the context of your particular case. Look at our other articles on record expungement in Virginia – especially juvenile record expungement if your criminal history record was created when you were underage. If there are any complications or complex fact patterns in your case, be sure to use the services of a Virginia criminal history expungement lawyer.

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

Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal records in Virginia
Process for Expunging 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?