Expungement FYIs

Expungement Overview

If you have been charged with a crime but never convicted, you may be eligible to have those charges expunged from your criminal record. Unfortunately, it is not enough that your charge resulted in a non-conviction result (dismissal, acquittal, nolle pros); it will still appear on your record if you do not go through the expungement process. 

Also, not all dismissals are eligible for expungement. There are two different types of dismissals, straight dismissals and deferred dismissals. Straight dismissals are those when the court dismisses the charge without finding that there were enough facts to convict someone; the court just drops the charge. Deferred dismissals are those when the court requires someone to meet certain conditions, like community service, before "earning a dismissal." Courts usually find there are enough facts to convict the person, so that if they do not complete the conditions, a conviction is entered. If the conditions are met, the charge is dismissed.

Only deferred dismissals which the prosecutor and the defense agree may be expunged are eligible, and only if that agreement appears in the final order in the case and is made pursuant to Va. Code § 19.2-298.02(D). All straight dismissals can be expunged.



The expungement process starts with filing an expungement petition with a certified copy of the arrest warrant/summons/indictment for the charge and paying a filing fee in the circuit court in the jurisdiction that heard the charge originally. A declaration detailing how the charge remaining on your records is harming you may need to be filed as well if you have other charges and/or convictions on your record. Once the Commonwealth’s Attorney (prosecutor) is served by the court, they have 21 days to respond. In the meantime, the plaintiff must get fingerprinted and send those fingerprints with a copy of their petition (with case number assigned by the court) to the Virginia State Police, who will then send the court a copy of the plaintiff’s criminal record. Once the court receives word from the Commonwealth’s Attorney (either agreeing or objecting to the expungement), the court will determine if a hearing needs be held. If no hearing is held, that means the court will issue an order, which will then be sent to the Virginia State Police so that the records can be expunged. If there is a hearing that goes against the Plaintiff, that’s the end of the case. Fingerprints are returned at the end of a case, as well as the filing fee if the case is successful. For more information on the process, see the Virginia Code on Expungement.  


Currently, only non-convictions are eligible for expungement. Effective in 2025, some convictions will be eligible for expungement, and some charges will be automatically expunged. For more information on the changes to the law that go into effect in 2025, visit this page by the Legal Aid Justice Center, who worked on the bill that led to the changes.  



Civil Cover Sheet  


More Questions?

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and is not meant to advise on any particular legal issue. Laws change every year and it is possible that the information is no longer current or valid. For help with specific legal issues, you should consult an attorney.