Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When can you get an expungement?

I have come across many people who are very misguided on the use of an expungement.  An expungement is a legal tool to have any record of your arrest, trial, etc. removed from all files.  The result is that it basically looks like it never happened.

You were found not guilty, so why would you want an expungement?

Although being found not guilty is a great result, unfortunately, in today's society that is not enough.  Many Americans have forgotten the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" which means when they see you were arrested with a charge, even though you were found not guilty, people assume you did something wrong. 

How do you get an expungement?

There is a process to petition the court for the expungement of your records relating to a charge which was ultimately dismissed.  This process includes serving the Commonwealth Attorney (or other relevant party) and obtaining your fingerprints and records from the Virginia State Police.  The Commonwealth Attorney then has the opportunity to object to having your file expunged.

When is an expungement available?

The standard for an expungement is higher than just being found not guilty.  Expungements are typically reserved for those who are "innocent".  This is a higher standard than being found not guilty.  Obviously to obtain an expungement, you should never plead guilty to the crime as you are admitting you are not innocent.  Typically, if there is a finding of guilt or facts sufficient to prove guilt, you will be unable to obtain an expungement. 

Expungements are controlled by a complicated set of laws and if you are interested in obtaining an expungement, you should speak with an attorney first.