If you are arrested and never actually convicted of the crime, you may be surprised to learn that the arrest will stay on your record well into your future. That arrest will also remain as publically accessible information, which means it may show up on background checks. Even without a conviction, you could still find it hard to get a job, housing or financial aid.
Virginia law, however, does allow you the chance to get a clean slate, through a process known as expungement. Most states have different processes for expunging an arrest or conviction. Here in Virginia, you cannot expunge a conviction from your record.
How To Qualify For An Expungement
In Fairfax County and throughout Virginia, you can qualify for an expungement under the following circumstances:
- You were acquitted of the charges
- The prosecutor declined to prosecute you after your arrest
- A judge dismissed your charges
- You received an absolute pardon for your conviction because you were not guilty
- Someone else used your name to commit a crime without your permission
If the court approves your expungement, your arrest record will not be destroyed, but it will not be publically available. That means you do not have to divulge the arrest when applying for a job. If someone wants to access your records, it will require a court order.
Do I Need An Attorney's Help
In most circumstances, you should always discuss your potential expungement with an attorney first. There are several rules in place for applying, and it is important to complete the process correctly. Any error could mean that you miss out on your chance to get the fresh start you deserve.