The Commonwealth of Virginia allows for the sealing of criminal records under certain circumstances. Sealing of records prevents criminal records from being accessed by the general public (this is technically different from expungement, which erases government record of the crime having ever occurred).
Generally speaking, the two terms are used interchangeably, since it is almost impossible for the public to access sealed records in any case. In order to seal your criminal record, one must petition the circuit court that originally had jurisdiction over the case.
Ensure that you are eligible to apply for sealing of records. In Virginia, you are only eligible if you are innocent of the crime for which you were charged or convicted, including if your case was dismissed or you were granted a pardon as a result of being unjustly convicted.
Obtain a set of your fingerprints from a law enforcement agency. That law enforcement agency must be served with a copy of your petition for expungement.
Obtain and complete a copy of Virginia’s Petition for Expungement Filed in a District Court. This document can be found on the Virginia Supreme Court website.
File the petition with the district court that originally had jurisdiction over your case. You must also serve the attorney representing the state in the city or county you file the petition in with a copy of the petition.
Wait. The attorney has 21 days to respond to your petition. You will be notified about a hearing to determine the outcome of your petition.
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