Question Two:  How do you get a record expunged?

Virginia does allow for the expungement of a criminal arrest record in some cases.  The charge must have been dismissed, nolle prosequied (not prosecuted) or a pardon granted.  To have a charge expunged requires the filing of a written petition in Circuit Court.  You must also obtain from a law enforcement agency one complete set of your fingerprints which is then submitted to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE).  Once the CCRE returns the fingerprint card and criminal history a hearing is scheduled.

The Court must find that “the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the arrest of the Petitioner causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner” to grant an expungement.  However, for misdemeanor arrests where the petitioner has no prior criminal record he or she is entitled to an expungement unless there is “good cause shown to the contrary.”

Think of it this way.  If a person is wrongly accused of a crime because of a misidentification, e.g. the John Doe who committed the offense was not the John Doe who was actually charged, an expungement may be granted.  If however a charge is dismissed because the charge was taken under advisement and later dismissed for complying with terms set by the court, the arrest should not be expunged.