If you need a drug charge expunged from your criminal record, you may qualify for expungement under Virginia law. Certain charges, such as possession of marijuana, can be expunged if you have been found not guilty or the charge has been otherwise dismissed by the prosecutor.
Here’s a common example. You were charged with possession of marijuana as a student. Rather than convict you, the court continued the case and allowed you to complete certain conditions. Then, the case was dismissed. Unfortunately, the charge will still show up on a background check when you apply for graduate school or a job.
How can you get a marijuana charge expunged? A Virginia lawyer can review the underlying case and help determine if you qualify. Then, you can file a petition with the court.
After the court grants expungement of your marijuana charge, the records are permanently removed from public access. The marijuana charge will never show up on a background check, and any reference to the charge is deleted from the court and police records. You can be confident that when you apply for school or a job, the charge will not show up.
A quick note. If your marijuana was dismissed under the First Offender program, you may not necessarily be eligible expungement. A Virginia lawyer will need to review your case.
Under First Offender Program, a person goes on probation for their marijuana charge, and then it is dismissed. Even though the charge is ultimately is dismissed after successful completion of probation, they do not necessarily qualify for expungement of the underlying charge removed from their criminal record.
In Gregg v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court of Virginia considered a petition to expunge a drug possession charge, which had been dismissed under Virginia’s first offender program. 227 Va. 504 (1984). The Court said that the charge was “not a proper charge to be dismissed” because the defendant pled guilty. The Court held, “one who is ‘guilty’ cannot occupy the status of ‘innocent’ so as to qualify under the expungement statute as a person whose charge has been ‘otherwise dismissed.'” Id..
The same result likely applies if the petitioner pled no contest to a charge of marijuana possession. Commonwealth v. Dotson, 276 Va. 278 (2008) (denying expungement of marijuana charge where defendant had pled no contest). Click here to download a copy of the Court’s opinion discussing expungement of marijuana charges.
If you need help getting expungement of a Virginia marijuana charge, contact a lawyer who can review your case, determine if you qualify, and fight to protect your record.