Virginia offers expungements for individuals under certain circumstances. These include:

  • A defendant who entered a Not Guilty plea and is acquitted of all charges.
  • A party in a civil action who is arrested or is charged with contempt of court, but is subsequently found not guilty.
  • A defendant in a criminal case in which the prosecution files a motion to nolle prosequi the charges.
  • A defendant who is charged with assault and battery or a misdemeanor for which there is a civil remedy (injured party must acknowledge in writing to the court that there has been satisfaction for the injury).
  • An individual’s name or identification was used without consent or authorization in a criminal case.
  • An individual has been granted an absolute pardon.

Virginia has three different pardons that may be granted by the governor: a simple pardon, a conditional pardon, and an absolute pardon.

simple pardon officially forgives an individual of their criminal history. It does not expunge or erase the conviction from an individual’s record, but there will be a notation that a pardon was given on the individual’s record. A simple pardon may be used to seek certain types of employment and/or education. To apply for a simple pardon an individual must have been conviction-free for a period of five years. If a felony was involved, an individual must have first applied and been granted a Restoration of Rights.

conditional pardon is only available to those individuals who are currently incarcerated. These pardons are granted for early release. Conditions are imposed when granted,  and a violation of those conditions would result in re-incarceration.

An absolute pardon is only for individuals who are innocent of the charges they were convicted of.  The petitioner must have pled NOT GUILTY throughout the judicial process. An application for an absolute pardon can only be submitted when all other avenues, appeals, and remedies have been exhausted.
*In 2004, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that allows individuals convicted of a crime, and who claim innocence, to petition the court for a Right of Actual Innocence. This avenue must also be used and exhausted before applying for an absolute pardon.

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