If you've been charged with a crime and the charge was dismissed, it may be possible to have that misdemeanor or felony charge removed from your criminal record (and from criminal background databases) by a process called Expungement. When a charge is alleged, it will appear on an individual's criminal history and, even if an order of nolle prosequi or for dismissal is entered, the charge will remain on an individual's criminal background. Charges are dropped for many reasons and §19.2-392.2 of the Code of Virginia was enacted to help innocent people avoid the hindrance of a charge affecting their ability to obtain and maintain employment and to obtain credit. Contact our Expungement Lawyer to discuss having the charge removed from your record. We handle expungement matters in Fairfax County. We offer a Free Consultation to discuss your case. Give us a call or use the contact form below.
The expungement process commences after the case is resolved and you have decided you wish to have the charge removed from your record. You can do an expungement two different ways: Do it yourself or have a lawyer do the expungement for you. We always recommend that you hire an attorney to do the expungement so that it's done correctly. In addition, having a lawyer for your expungement will take the pressure off of you to figure out the process.
The first step in the expungement process is obtaining a certified copy of the case result from the court file. Then we will draft a Petition for Expungement and attach the certified copy of the case result to the Petition and file it with the Court. The current cost to file an expungement is $86.00. Once this is done, we will create a packet for you to take to Central Records of the Fairfax County Police where you will have your fingerprints done. The cost for fingerprints is $10.00. Your fingerprints will then be sent with a copy of the Petition we have drafted to the Virginia State Police in Richmond where your criminal history will be drafted and sent, under seal, to the Fairfax County Circuit Court. Once the record arrives, we can draft and file a Notice of Hearing and set the date for the Expungement Hearing. Finally, we will draft an Order of Expungement to hand up to the Judge for their signature.
The Expungement Process will take approximately 2 months to complete. Initially, once the fingerprints are done, it takes about 3 weeks for the criminal history to be completed and sent to the Fairfax County Circuit Court. Then, following the Hearing, it takes about a month or so for the charge to be removed from police and court records. Note that we typically receive verification from the Virginia State Police approximately 6 months later that the charge has been removed or erased. However, in reality, the charge disappears closer to a month or so following the Hearing.
What is Expungeable
Virginia is very strict about what can be expunged and what cannot be expunged. The following types of cases are expungeable:
- Nolle Prosequi: If a charge was dropped by the prosecutor or police officer. This includes those charges that are ultimately dropped after your lawyer works out a deal with the prosecutor to have the charge dropped after completing agreed-upon tasks. For example, many times a lawyer can work out a plea deal for an underage possession of alcohol charge where the individual completes a certain amount of community service for an eventual nolle prosequi of the charge.
- Not Guilty or Acquittal.
- Accord and Satisfaction (pursuant to §19.2-151)
- Otherwise Dismissed: This means that the charge was dismissed without the entry of a guilty or no contest plea. This may happen when the police officer or a witness fails to appear for Court and the dismisses the charge. In addition, sometimes in finding a person not guilty a Judge may simply order a dimissal of the charge.
- Charge was Reduced from a Greater Charge: Case law has held that if the charge was reduced, it can be expungeable provided it's not to a lesser-included offense. For example, a Disorderly Conduct charge can be expunged if the charge is reduced to Trespassing.
What is Not Expungeable
The following types of cases are not expungeable:
- Deferred Dispositions: If the charge was ultimately dismissed but was done pursuant to a deferred disposition it is not expungeable. For example, §18.2-251 or §18.2-57.3, is not eligible for expungement because 1st offender programs are available to allow for dismissal of the charge after terms of conditions of probation are met. While the charge will appear on the record as dismissed, it is not eligible for expungement because the charge was not "otherwise dismissed" so the person does not occupy the status as innocent of the charge.
- Charges that are reduced to lesser-included offenses such as Grand Larceny reduced to Petit Larceny. The Grand Larceny charge cannot be expunged.
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