Will you soon be able to get minor charges removed from your Virginia criminal record? Maybe. I’m Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney Scott Nolan. And I’m here to talk to you about expungements in Virginia.

Virginia’s expungement rule

As long as I’ve been an attorney, Virginia’s expungement rule has been that you can only have removed from your criminal record those charges for which you were found not guilty or which were dropped by the prosecution, nolle prosequi, as lawyers say.

Any charge for which you were convicted, no matter how minor, stays on your Virginia record for life, unless you’re pardoned by the governor, which, obviously, doesn’t happen all that often.

A new bill may bring change

But all that may be about to change. There is a bill working its way through the Virginia legislature and it appears certain to be signed in some form by Virginia Governor Northam. That bill will permit expungement of minor records.

While there will be some changes before it reaches its final form, if it ever does get signed, the bill that I have read seems to me virtually certain to be approved in some form.

What the bill appears to propose

And what it appears to propose is that minor charges that were non-violent and are misdemeanors can be expunged from your record once you have had at least eight years of good behavior.

In other words, the new law, if signed into effect, would permit you to have your criminal record cleaned of non-violent misdemeanors once you’ve made a showing to the court of rehabilitation.

And the bill that I saw defines that as eight years after the end of all connection with the court. That is at the end of probation and any other programs. Once that’s ended, you wait eight years, you go into court, and you show that you have no other criminal records. Then the court is empowered to expunge your record.

Why this is so important

Criminal records can wreck your life. They can make it hard to get employment, hard to get mortgages, hard to get loans, and hard to do a lot of things that we take for granted.

And many of these people were never criminals in the first place. They just made a mistake. Others, while they may have had a more checkered past, have been rehabilitated. They’re normal members of society who are still held back by that minor offense in their past.

I’ll keep you posted as things change. I suspect that this is going to interest an awful lot of you. So, if you have any questions about expungements in Virginia, give me a call. I’ll be happy to talk to you about it.