An arrest or criminal conviction can follow someone through life, cutting off certain opportunities for education or work. Having a criminal history really does make it so much harder to improve one's life. Expungements could be the answer for those in Virginia who are ready to move forward in their lives but are struggling because of their pasts.
An expungement is when the legal record for a criminal conviction or arrest is sealed up or essentially erased. This can have a multitude of benefits for someone who has been struggling to restabilize his or her life. Many job openings, apartment contracts and other important documents require people to disclose arrests or convictions, but there is generally no legal requirement to do so following an expungement. Expunged records usually do not show up when employers or educational institutions conduct background checks, either.
Expunged records are never entirely gone, though. For example, certain criminal courts and law enforcement agencies can still access expunged convictions or arrests while accessing people's criminal records. Expungements may also be taken into account during certain legal proceedings, like sentencing for subsequent convictions. Accessibility to these records remains limited, though.
Not everyone who is convicted or arrested for a crime is eligible for an expungement, though. The nature of one's charge, how much time has passed and one's criminal history are all important factors when considering expungements. Another important factor that many people in Virginia tend to overlook is having the right help on one's side during this process.