How to File for Expungement in Virginia

Virginia Expungement Lawyer

Blacksburg criminal defense attorney Joel Jackson helps clients throughout the state of Virginia file for expungement. Under Virginia law, an expungement is a process to permanently remove any reference to all police and court records in a criminal case.

After the court’s grants expungement, any police or court records related to the charge will be deleted or sealed. The records are removed from public access. The charge will no longer show up on a background check.

“How Do I File for Expungement in Virginia?”

Here’s how to file for expungement of a Virginia charge:

  • Find out if you qualify. Virginia law allows certain charges to be expunged from police and court records. Common examples of charges that can be expunged include if: (1) You were found not guilty, (2) The charge was dismissed by the prosecutor, (3) The charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement, (4) The charge was taken under advisement and dismissed without a plea of guilty or no contest or a finding of facts sufficient for guilt, or (4) The charge was amended and dismissed. The law of expungement is complicated. Speak with a Virginia attorney to find out if you qualify before incurring the cost of filing.
  • Prepare a petition for expungement. If you qualify for expungement in Virginia, the next step is to fill out a Petition for Expungement. You can download the required form here: Note, you must complete and file a petition for expungement for each charge that you want expunged from your permanent record.
  • Attach a certified copy of the charge to be expunged. After you fill out the petition for expungement, you need to get a certified copy of the charge to be expunged from the clerk’s office. You can get a certified copy by phone or in person from the clerk’s office where the charge was filed. For circuit court cases, look up the contact information for the corresponding clerk’s office here: For district court cases, go here:
  • Attach an order of expungement. When you file the petition for expungement, you will need to include an Order of Expungement for the court to sign. Contact a Virginia attorney for assistance drafting an appropriate order for the court to sign in your case.
  • File the petition for expungement and attachments with the clerk’s office. After you have prepared the petition for expungement, along with the required attachments, go to the Virginia circuit court clerk’s office in the jurisdiction where you are seeking expungement of the charge. You will need to make four (4) photocopies of the petition and bring two (2) self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the return of your fingerprint card (see below) and a certified copy of the final order. You will also need a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your attorney’s office.
  • Pay the required costs for expungement of a charge in Virginia. The clerk’s office will require a filing fee for the petition, which usually costs about $86.00 per charge. You will need to pay a service fee to get a copy of the petition served by the sheriff on the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The service fee is usually $12.00. You will need to pay any legal costs to your attorney for assistance with processing the expungement petition. And, you will need to pay for processing of your fingerprint card.
  • Serve copies of the petition for expungement. The original petition will be filed with the clerk’s office. You will keep the first photocopy for your records. The second photocopy will be attached to a summons and served on the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The third and fourth copies will be taken by you to a police department or sheriff’s office to get a fingerprint card.
  • Get a fingerprint card. After you file your petition for expungement, you will take the two photocopies with you to the police department to get a complete set of your fingerprints. Bring two (2) forms of identification with name and date of birth. One of the forms of identification must be a photo identification. The police department will attach the fingerprint card to a copy of the petition for expungement and mail it to the Virginia State Police. The police department will keep the other copy for its records.
  • Obtain a copy of your Virginia State Police criminal history. After the Virginia State Police receives a copy of the petition for expungement with the fingerprint card from the police department, it will perform an official criminal history background check. The Virginia State Police will then send the criminal record check under seal to the court.
  • Check with court to confirm that criminal history has been filed. Allow up to 30 days after the Virginia State Police has received your petition for expungement to confirm that your criminal record check has been filed with the court. To confirm, contact the circuit court clerk’s office.
  • Schedule a hearing. After the court receives the criminal record check from the Virginia State, a hearing date may be scheduled with the circuit court to decide whether to grant expungement. If a hearing date has to be scheduled, you will need to contact the clerk’s office to confirm a date and time when the court is available. You should also contact the Commonwealth’s Attorney to coordinate availability. Then, you will likely need to file a Notice of Hearing with the clerk and mail or deliver a copy to the Commonwealth’s Attorney at least one week in advance of the hearing. To check the date and time of your expungement hearing, visit:
  • Attend the Hearing. You must appear in Court on the date that your case is scheduled to be heard. Or, with the agreement of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, an attorney may appear on your behalf. To prevail in the hearing, you must show that you qualify under the statute and that good case justifies expungement. The Commonwealth’s Attorney may agree to expungement, or it may oppose the expungement, in which case you will need to present evidence and other facts to the court to support your request for expungement. A Virginia attorney who is familiar with expungement cases can assist you in preparing for the hearing.
  • Final Order. After the court grants or denies your petition for expungement, the clerk will mail you a certified copy of the final order in the self-addressed, stamped envelope that you provided.

“What Happens to My Criminal Record After Expungement?”

If the court grants a petition for expungement, the order will be mailed to the Virginia Department of State Police. They will review the order and send a letter back to the court directing that records be removed from public access. The court will remove the records and send a letter back to the Virginia Department of State Police confirming that the records have been removed from public access. The fingerprint card is returned to you.

“How Long Does Expungement Take in Virginia?”

It takes approximately 60-90 days to obtain an order of expungement from the court following the above steps. Then, once an order is granted, it can take up to 180 days for the records to be removed by the Virginia Department of State Police from public access.

In total, it will take about 6-9 months to process an expungement from start to finish.

Contact a Virginia Expungement Lawyer

If you need help filing for expungement of a criminal record in Virginia, we can help. Contact the firm for a free consultation by calling (540) 961-5297.