In firm news, the Norton Pelt team is very excited to announce that we won the Best Law Firm Category in the 2023 Best of the Burg contest!   We'd like to extend a big thank you to our community for all of your support - this couldn't have been achieved without you. We look forward to continuing to provide excellent legal services to Fredericksburg and the Commonwealth.

Expungement Laws In Va Are Changing In 2025

In 2025, Virginia will roll out significant changes to its expungement laws. These modifications provide broader opportunities for people to clear their criminal records. The new rules intend to make the process more inclusive, reflecting a shift in policy to aid not just the innocent but also those who have shown rehabilitation after a conviction. This update is crucial for many looking to erase the shadows cast by past mistakes.

What the New Expungement Law Looks Like 

The new statutes change the foundational principles of Virginia’s approach to expungements. Previously, expungements primarily served to protect those who were acquitted or whose cases were dismissed. Under the new policy, expungement will also aid individuals showing signs of rehabilitation after a conviction. This expanded approach can be seen in the updated Statement of Policy under VA Code Section 19.2-392.1. It acknowledges the need for relief to those who have demonstrated rehabilitation, alongside protecting the innocent. One of the biggest drivers of this is that criminal records significantly impact employment opportunities. 

The upcoming changes ensure that sealed or expunged records cannot be used against applicants in their job search. This is a critical update, as VA Code Section 19.2-392.4 specifically prohibits employers from requiring the disclosure of such records. This law significantly boosts the employability of individuals with past convictions, allowing them a fairer chance in the job market.

Another pivotal aspect of the new law is the delineation between “sealing” and “expungement” of records. Sealed records are accessible for specific purposes such as background checks or national security concerns. This differs from expunged records, which are almost entirely inaccessible and protected to support rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Am I Eligible?

Under the new laws, the process and eligibility criteria for sealing or expunging records will be more flexible. For instance, certain misdemeanors like petit larceny and disorderly conduct, as well as specific felonies, can be automatically sealed under the right conditions without the individual needing to petition the court. Suppose no other criminal charges have been recorded in three years. In that case, the potential for automatic expungement of certain misdemeanors makes it much easier for people who want a clean slate.

This move towards automatic sealing includes provisions for misdemeanor charges resulting from acquittals, nolle prosses, or dismissals. These changes simplify clearing your record and reduce the bureaucratic hurdles previously involved. Felony charges also have pathways for automatic sealing, with conditions including acquittal or dismissal of the case. The court can automatically seal such records, provided no pending charges or related criminal activity exists.

The eligibility for automatic sealing is expanded but with specific conditions and exclusions. For example, charges related to more serious offenses like involuntary manslaughter or DUI remain ineligible for sealing. The new laws thus clearly define what types of people can be rehabilitated into society and which cannot be based on the crimes they committed. This distinction ensures that the expungement process focuses on minor offenses and individuals demonstrating genuine reform.

Speak with Legal Counsel About Expungement 

With the upcoming changes in Virginia’s expungement laws, more individuals will have the opportunity to remove the stigma of a criminal record, potentially unlocking new employment opportunities and personal growth. Understanding the specific charges and your personal history is essential to navigating these new options effectively.

If you have questions about how these changes might apply to your situation or need help with an expungement case, work with Norton Pelt. Schedule a consultation today to explore how these new opportunities can help you clear your record.

The following two tabs change content below.

Norton Pelt, PLC

We work hard to ensure we provide the best legal experience possible and make it a priority to get to know each client so we can help you through virtually every type of legal event you may go through.

Latest posts by Norton Pelt, PLC (see all)