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Expungement FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions About Expungements in Virginia

At Messman Law, PLC, our Virginia Beach expungement attorney assists clients with previous arrests to have those records sealed.

Contact a knowledgeable expungement attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC, assists clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region in obtaining expungements of arrest and court records. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.


What is an expungement?

An expungement is an order vacating records of an arrest and the court proceedings related to it. The records are not destroyed, but are sealed and removed from public access. These records may be unsealed later for limited purposes, such as the named party applying for employment in law enforcement or a subsequent arrest for a similar act, like a DWI.

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Who qualifies for an expungement in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Expungements may be granted to anyone who is acquitted of a crime, whom authorities have declined to prosecute or against whom charges have been dismissed. A party who receives an absolute pardon for a crime he or she did not commit can also have records expunged.

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What is the standard the court uses to decide whether to grant an expungement?

According to the Code of Virginia, the petitioner must demonstrate that the information in the records has the potential to create "circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice." However, a petitioner with no prior criminal record, who was arrested for a misdemeanor, is "entitled" to expungement unless the Commonwealth can show good cause for denying it.

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I was the victim of identity theft. Should I be worried that there is an arrest record out there with my name on it?

If a crime was committed by someone using your name, it is likely that an arrest warrant was issued in your name. The perpetrator may well have been arrested and processed under your name before his or her true identity came to light. The Code of Virginia allows "any person whose name or other identification has been used without his consent or authorization by another person who has been charged or arrested using such name or identification" to seek relief through an expungement. A Virginia criminal attorney can verify whether an arrest record in your name exists, and move to have the record expunged.

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I was arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Do I need an expungement?

When the charge is dismissed because the court finds that the person arrested or charged is not the person named in the summons, warrant, indictment or presentment, the court dismissing the charge shall, upon motion of the person improperly arrested or charged, enter an order requiring expungement of the police and court records relating to the charge.

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