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Understanding the expungement process in Virginia

A criminal charge can have lasting effects on the lives of those with such charges on their records. If you or a loved one receives an acquittal or dismissal of such charges, it may be possible to receive an expungement to remove them from the record.

Getting an expungement does involve a specific procedure and may vary depending upon the state. In the state of Virginia, the process of getting an expungement involves three steps.

1. Apply

Applicants must complete the petition for expungement form and file it in the circuit court of the county where they initially faced the charges. Within the application, applicants must state they are seeking the expungement due to its negative effects on their lives. Along with the application form itself, there are a few other documents, such as the arrest warrant or indictment, that the applicant must submit. Certain courts also require a cover sheet. Applicants may contact the court to confirm what documents they must submit in order to complete the process.

2. Get fingerprints

A law enforcement agency must take the fingerprints of all applicants. Applicants may choose any legitimate agency. The chosen agency must submit a copy of the application with the fingerprints, which the agency sends to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. The CCRE screens the fingerprints and submits its findings to the court.

3. Serve the attorney

Along with submitting a copy of the application to a law enforcement agency, applicants must also provide it to the attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The attorney has three weeks to respond. If the attorney does not contest the expungement, no trail is necessary. On the other hand, should the attorney disagree with the expungement, the applicant must plead the case in court.

As you can see, the expungement process has several parts. However, receiving an expungement may be well worth the hassle. Take some time to review your options to decide if it is the best choice for you.

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