All around the United States, the move to decriminalize the use of marijuana seems to be gaining momentum. Multiple states in all parts of the country and the District of Columbia now legally allow adults at least 21 years of age to possess and use pot in accordance with their area's laws. Along with this, many states have removed criminal charges associated with pot possession and even retroactively expunged the records of some people previously charged with these offenses. In Virginia, there have been multiple attempts to do these things, but all have failed thus far.
Over the past several years, many states across the national have passed laws that have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado led the way as the first state to do this and was quickly followed by all three west coast states. The movement has moved beyond the west and, today, even the District of Columbia allows legal use of recreational pot. For the time being, however, such use is still illegal in Virginia.
The limitations and restrictions that a criminal conviction can place on you in Roanoke have been detailed on this blog in the past. Being associated with criminal activity can hinder your chances at finding a job or securing housing, and a criminal conviction also places restrictions on your right to own a gun. Yet what many fail to realize (and what you may just be learning) is that certain other civil rights may be stripped from you when you are convicted of a crime. Chief among these is the right to vote.
If you are one of the many people in Virginia who has been arrested for and charged with a criminal offense, you may well have experienced some negative consequences associated with having this event on your permanent record. There are some situations in which you may be able to have details of this event removed, making it easier for you to go forward and rebuild your life in a positive manner.
People in Virginia who are arrested for and ultimately convicted of criminal offenses often want to understand the penalties they may face. In addition to the penalties, people should pay special attention to how they may rebuild their lives once they have served their sentences. For many, this can be made more difficult due to the laws that are in place. Today, many are calling for greater criminal justice reform in part to aid positive reintroductions for people being released from prisons.
A criminal record can affect many aspects of your life in Virginia and sometimes you may wish this record would disappear so you can have a clean start. In some situations, you may be able to get this start if a court expunges your record. At Robert F. Rider, PLC, we understand the importance of helping you know if this option is open to you.
The issue of expungement of a criminal record often creates a great deal of confusion amongst people in Roanoke. The common thought may be that expungement is the eliminating of a record of your criminal conviction, yet Virginia's laws only allow that privilege in a few select cases. Rather, expungement is typically available in those cases where criminal charges were not fully pursued. Indeed, Section 19.2-392.2 of the Code of Virginia lists cases where "nolle prosequi" is invoked as being among the scenarios where expungement is possible.
Anyone in Virginia who has ever been arrested for a crime knows how important it is to find ways to move forward and rebuild their lives in a positive way after such an experience. Having a criminal record eliminated, or expunged as it is called, is one thing that can help to facilitate this. The Center for American Progress has initiated a campaign called Clean Slate designed to provide for a better expungement process than many people currently experience.
Perhaps one of the hardest things that people arrested for minor indiscretions in Virginia must deal with is the long-term implications of having a criminal record. Potential employers, landlords, lenders and more often complete thorough background checks on people before making final decisions about employment, housing or loans and even a small blemish on people's records might hamper their ability to make a positive step forward in their lives.
Should past mistakes follow Virginia residents around for the rest of their lives? We at the law office of Robert F. Rider believe that the answer is "not necessarily." A criminal charge or arrest can follow you around for a long time, and it can be difficult to get started on a new life when potential landlords and employers keep drudging up your past when you try to rent an apartment or apply for a job, but in some cases, it may be possible to remove past arrests or charges from your criminal record through the process of expungement, although the process is not easy and involves a lot of paperwork.