A criminal record can cause some problems over time regardless of whether the record shows that you were arrested or convicted or even both. For instance, landlords and employers usually ask rental applicants and job applicants if they have been arrested or convicted of a criminal case.
Some employers cannot hire you or the landlords may not rent you their property if you were arrested or convicted at one point in your life. The good news is that there are situations where you can get an arrest or conviction expunged from the record. This page explains what you need to know about a VA expungement attorney.
Expungement is simply the process that can seal arrest and conviction records. Most states have now adopted laws that can allow you to expunge arrests and convictions from your records. The details usually vary from one state to another, but laws in many states state that when a conviction or arrest is expunged, it should not be disclosed to landlords, potential employers, and many more.
For example, if you were convicted of petty theft and the conviction was later expunged, it means this was the only experience with the criminal justice system. If you apply for a job and the employer wants to know if you were ever convicted, you are free to say no.
As you can see, an expungement can provide you a fresh start, which is one of the crucial things you can do if you were arrested or convicted at one point. For this reason, you need to investigate the expungement procedures in your jurisdiction. You can begin by checking the county’s criminal court, or check with the law enforcement agency that dealt with your arrest.
You need to specifically ask them the procedures required for the expungement process. Ideally, you need to know if there is a specific offense that is eligible for expungement. For instance, a jurisdiction can allow expungement for just arrests and misdemeanor convictions and not accept felony convictions.
It’s also important to know when you can be eligible for an expungement. For example, expungement can be available only after you complete serving your sentence including any probation term. However, a judge can always reduce a period of probation so that expungement can happen earlier.
You should also know everything about the expungement process. Expungement doesn’t always need you to hire an attorney. Many courts keep forms that have titles indicating the motion of expungement, so you can use them.
You need also be aware of the consequences of expungement. Remember that a conviction can be expunged, but it may still show up in some situations. For example, some licensing boards and police departments can find out about your expunged records.
Lastly, you should consider taking a certificate of actual innocence. This is perhaps one of the crucial forms of expungement. You see, this certificate does a lot more than seal your prior record as it can prove that a criminal record was not supposed to exist at all.
For example, you can be arrested for theft but the charges are later dropped. Or you can be charged with theft and go to trial and you are later found guilty. Whatever the situation, you can get a certificate to establish that you were innocent of the offense.
Meeting with an expungement attorney
It’s always necessary to prepare for the first appointment with your expungement Lawyer in VA. Expungements as well as pardons can involve some detailed factual and legal analysis. So to evaluate your claim and offer accurate legal advice, the attorney needs to have enough information.
Therefore, you need to tell your attorney when the offense happened. Expungement procedures and laws tend to vary significantly from state to state. Some states allow the expungement of various criminal records while others it’s more restricted. Your attorney cannot offer accurate advice unless they know the specific laws that apply to the case.
Besides, you should file the expungement request in any court that dealt with your criminal case. If you are keeping any documents relating to the case, you should consider taking them to the appointment.
Expungement rules in a state can also vary depending on the seriousness of the offense. It’s usually easy to expunge a misdemeanor compared to a violent felony. For instance, there can be extended waiting time and other requirements for some serious offenses. Also, many states don’t allow the expungement of some criminal offenses like violent crimes, serious drug offenses, and sex crime.
Hence at your appointment with an attorney, you should prepare to discuss in detail the criminal history. If you keep court documents, police reports, or any other important information, you should take them to the appointment.
Some states can also allow the expungement of non-conviction records. Keep in mind that non-conviction records can include arrest records, charges that were withdrawn or dismissed, cases that ended in an acquittal, and cases that were resolved via a diversion program.
If there was any conviction of a crime, you can have extra requirements when it comes to an expungement claim. For instance, you can usually complete the terms of the sentence, such as payment of fines and probation before you can be eligible. Therefore, if the documents are showing that there is the successful completion of the sentence, then take them to the appointment.
Many states can also put a limit on the number of times you may expunge the record. Therefore, depending on where you are living, you can be eligible for only one expungement. Other states need you to consider filing a separate expungement for each criminal offense.
And, many states cannot expunge the record if there are pending criminal charges. Therefore, you need to discuss your criminal history with an attorney. The lawyer can only determine if it’s worth pursuing your case only when they know all the details about your criminal history. An attorney also needs to understand when you committed the crimes as well as when you were convicted.