Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Virginia

Learn about Virginia's expungement laws.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated January 06, 2023

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.

Expunging Criminal Records in Virginia

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:

(Va. Stat. § 19.2-392.2 (2022).)

If You Were Not 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 that establishes your innocence. (Va. Stat. § 19.2-392.2 (2022).)

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, you may request that your DNA record be purged from the state DNA database. (Va. Stat. § 19.2-310.7 (2022).)

Filing for Expungement in Virginia

If you are eligible to have your record expunged, you may file a petition for expungement. You must file the petition in the circuit court of the county or city in which your case was handled. (Va. Stat. § 19.2-392.2 (2022).)

You can find the petition forms on the website of the Virginia Judicial System.

Virginia's New Expungement Laws (2025)

Virginia enacted new expungement—or "sealing"—laws in 2021 that are set to take effect in 2025. The new laws will expand eligibility for expunging criminal records and convictions through the current court petition process or a new automatic process. Eligible offenses will include certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies. To qualify, the person must have an eligible conviction or record, wait a set number of years after the case concludes, and not have certain felony convictions on record.

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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