Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Virginia

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The state of Virginia does not allow the expungement or sealing of criminal conviction records unless you were granted an absolute pardon for a crime you did not commit. If, however, you were arrested but not charged with a crime, or if you were charged but not convicted, the related criminal record may qualify for expungement under the circumstances described below.

If your record is expunged, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers. In most cases, you may say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.  

If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime

Your criminal record may be expunged if:

  • you were charged with a crime but acquitted
  • the charges against you were dismissed, or “nolle prossed,” or
  • your name or other identification was used without your consent to commit a crime.

 (Virginia Statutes § 19.2-392.2.)

If You Were Convicted of a Crime

Your conviction record may be expunged only if you were convicted of a crime you did not commit and were later granted an absolute pardon. (Virginia Statutes § 19.2-392.2.)

There is a limited exception to this rule for DNA evidence. If you were convicted of a felony and your conviction was later reversed and the case dismissed, your DNA record may be purged from the state DNA database. (Virginia Statutes § 9.2-310.7.)

How to File

You must file your petition for expungement in the circuit court of the county or city in which your case was handled.

Getting Legal Help

Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Virginia -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.

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