You weren’t convicted of larceny or theft. Yet, you worry that the criminal record of your arrest and court proceedings could hurt you. Could an employer, landlord, or school use your arrest against you? Will your reputation be damaged by a crime that you did not commit?
The short answer to your question is that your arrest should not be used against you. You were never found guilty of a crime. The longer answer is that you don’t want others to find out about your arrest and consciously or unconsciously use that information against you.
Expungement May Be an Option for You
You may be eligible for an expungement if one of four things is true. According to Virginia Code § 19.2-392.2, you may seek a successful expungement if:
- You are acquitted (found not guilty) of theft charges in court
- The Commonwealth of Virginia decides not to prosecute your case
- The theft charges against you were dismissed without a finding of guilt or a finding that the evidence was sufficient for a finding of guilt
- You can prove that the crime was committed by someone else who used your identity
If you entered a plea agreement, pled no contest, or were convicted of larceny, credit card fraud, or another theft crime, then you may not seek a successful expungement in Virginia.
How to Get Theft Charges Expunged in Virginia
You must file an expungement petition and the court must rule in your favor before your theft record is expunged in Virginia.
The process for seeking an expungement is the same whether you were arrested for a misdemeanor (such as petit larceny) or a felony (such as grand larceny). However, the burden of proof is different.
An expungement case:
- Begins with a petition. You begin your case by filing a formal petition for expungement. The Commonwealth has 21 days to respond if a written response is required.
- Requires fingerprints and criminal records be sent to the court. The next step is to take a copy of your petition to your local law enforcement agency or private fingerprinting entity and request to be fingerprinted. The law enforcement agency or you will submit your fingerprints and expungement petition to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Then, the Central Criminal Records Exchange will send your fingerprints, copies of the documents you want expunged, and your fingerprints to the court.
- Is decided by a court ruling. The court will rule on your expungement petition. If you were acquitted of a misdemeanor theft charge and you have no prior criminal record, then your expungement should be granted unless the Commonwealth’s Attorney can show good cause why your expungement should not be granted. If the charges against you involved felony theft charges, then the burden is on you to show the need for an expungement. Specifically, the court will want to know what manifest injustice is likely to occur without an expungement.
- Ends with confirmation of expungement. If the court grants your expungement petition, it will notify the Virginia State Police of its decision. The Virginia State Police will carry out the expungement and send you a letter confirming that the process is complete.
Your future matters. Your employment, education, or housing should not be impacted by a crime for which you were never found guilty and did not accept legal responsibility.
Our experienced Fairfax expungement lawyers represent adults and juveniles in simple and complex expungement cases. We would be happy to discuss your potential expungement with you and help you through the expungement process, if appropriate. Please call us or complete our online contact form today to schedule your first meeting with one of our expungement attorneys.