If you’re accused of committing a violent crime in Virginia, it’s crucial to understand the…
In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation changing the Commonwealth’s expungement process. Although that law was not supposed to take effect until 2025, local news organizations say there is already an increase in the number of individuals flooding Fairfax County courts seeking to remove their criminal charges from public records through the expungement process.
At Pincus Goodman, P.C., we want to help you understand the upcoming changes to Virginia’s expungement process and what these changes might mean to you if you seek to seal your criminal record.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that seals or limits access to an individual’s criminal record or records showing an individual was arrested and charged with a crime but was not convicted. Expunging a criminal offense means removing the offense from public records. Very few people can access the previous record. Additionally, the record may only be viewed under specific conditions.
Essentially, expungement attempts to offer individuals a clean slate, meaning potential employers, creditors, and landlords cannot see the previous offense. Individuals with their record expunged are also not required to disclose an arrest or conviction on a job application or during an interview.
Under current Virginia law, an arrest or conviction must meet certain requirements to make an individual eligible to apply for expungement. Requirements include:
- You must have been acquitted of the offense
- The government decided not to prosecute you in court
- The charges against you were dismissed
- The crime was committed by someone using your identity
Expungement is a process. If you meet the eligibility requirements to have an offense expunged, you must petition the court.
Upcoming Changes to the Expungement Process in Virginia
Starting October 1st, 2025, some individuals may qualify for an automatic expungement of their misdemeanor arrest record.
An individual could be eligible for an automatic expungement if they are found not guilty, the government drops the case, or in cases of dismissal. Additionally, the person must not have been arrested or charged with additional crimes in Virginia in the last three years and must never have been convicted of a crime in Virginia. Individuals not meeting these criteria can formally petition the court for expungement. If you don’t meet the requirements for automatic expungement, you could petition the court for an expungement.
The new law also allows individuals who are convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes to be eligible for an automatic expungement of their record if it has been seven years since the conviction and the individual meets other conditions such as:
- Not being convicted of a separate crime that is ineligible for automatic expungement at the same time as the misdemeanor conviction
- Not being convicted of any crime other than a traffic violation anywhere in the U.S. seven years post-conviction
Finally, the misdemeanor conviction must be on the Commonwealth’s list of crimes eligible for automatic expungement. The list of misdemeanor crimes that may qualify a person for automatic expungement includes:
- Underage alcohol possession
- Marijuana possession
- Marijuana possession with intent to distribute (not the felony level)
- Trespassing on private property
- Disorderly conduct
- Petit larceny
If your misdemeanor conviction is not on the automatic expungement list, you may still petition the court for an expungement. However, those convicted of DUI or assault and battery of a family member remain ineligible.
In 2025, you may also be able to seal a felony record. Individuals convicted of Class 5, Class 6, and felony larceny offenses can seek expungement by meeting certain criteria.
Do You Have Questions About Expungement? Talk to an Experienced Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Expunging your record can make securing housing and employment opportunities easier. If you are interested in expungement or how Virginia’s new automatic expungement regulations may apply to you, call (757) 301-9634 to talk with an aggressive criminal defense attorney from Pincus Goodman, P.C. today.