As of May 15, 2014, Virginia has made changes that make it more difficult for an individual to "sanitize" a criminal record. Clarification is needed however, as to what type of remedies are available. Before any steps are taken, any person seeking any type of relief, should obtain a copy of the criminal record first. This can be obtained by going to your local police station and making a written request and paying a nominal sum. To clear up a criminal history, the following remedies may be available:
1) Restoration of Rights: This allows convicted Felons who have lost their Right to Vote to have this Right restored. For most people, the forms are available on-line and an attorney is not needed. For other individuals, if the process is too daunting, Legal Aid or a private attorney can be hired. Note: This does not mean that the individual can obtain a gun. For the this right to be restored, a separate court action must be filed (and usually, there must be an evidentiary hearing before the court showing why, the individual seeking the right, should be allowed to have a gun).
2) Expungement: An expungementcannot be used to clear up felony or misdemeanor convictions. It can only remove charges that were Dismissed, Nolle Prossed (not prosecuted), or there was a finding by the court of "Not Guilty." Oftentimes, the removal of these charges significantly assists a person who has some "rust" on their record. Note: This does not mean that the individual can obtain a gun. For the restoration of this
3) Pardon: There has been a lot of changes since the new Govenor took office in Virginia. As of May 2014, Pardonse are less available to convicted Felons. While a Pardon does a lot for an individual, it does not expunge a conviction from a criminal record, but merely reflects that the individual has been pardoned for the committed crime. Before a Pardon is obtained, the individual must seek a Restoration of Rights, and there is now a ten year waiting period before an individual can ask for a Pardon. A person seeking a Pardon must also provide a statement why they believe they are entitled to the Pardon (along with proof that they have not been in subsequent trouble with the law).
Our office can assist people through the process of obtaining any (or all) of the three options listed above. For more information, please call to schedule an appointment.