When you’ve been granted expungement of a criminal record, you are probably wondering several things:

  • Can an employer still get access to my record?
  • Can the police keep copies of my record?
  • Can someone still review an expunged record at the court?
  • Is the record under seal?
  • What happens if someone discloses the expunged record?

Under Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.3, it is unlawful for any person with access to an expunged court or police record to open it, review it, disclose it, or share it with anyone else without a court order.

Anyone who willfully violates this code section shall be guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to twelve (12) months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

In other words, once a criminal record is expunged from your record, no one – no one – may view it, open it, or disclose it to anyone. This includes court personnel, prosecutors, police, employers, school officials, etc. The record is permanently sealed.

There are a few limited circumstances allowing disclosure of an expunged criminal record, such as pending criminal investigation, applying for a job with law enforcement, or to protect against an immediate threat to life or property – and only then, it shall not be disclosed without a court order.

The bottom line is that once a record is expunged, it is effectively gone forever.

What Happens to the Physical Records of the Charge After They Are Expunged?

When a criminal record is expunged, the clerk of the court sends the order to the Virginia Department of State Police carries out “prompt sealing or purging of criminal history record information.”

The items to be sealed or purged include the various court documents, police reports, and other physical records. Also, any electronic data related to the charge is removed from the state court system, meaning that it cannot be accessed on the computer.

Generally, it takes a matter of 2-3 weeks for records to be expunged after the court enters its order.