Frequently Asked Questions About The Expungement Of Criminal Records


Before law school, I hadn’t ever heard of this expression “expungement. ” Perhaps I was naive, or only uneducated in criminal law and criminal process. However, it never happened to me that (a) there’s a procedure where individuals can have criminal records ; and (b) there are individuals out there that need to use such a procedure.

Before I get too much in this guide, but I wish to allow you to know that I’m a criminal lawyer NYC, a Virginia criminal lawyer, and a DC criminal lawyer, therefore anything discussed here’s from the perspective of expungements in these authorities. Furthermore, DC statutes provide for expungement only in very restricted conditions, whereas Virginia and Maryland have somewhat broader statutes. These are different and, therefore, the information that you obtain in this guide isn’t, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. In the end, should you need to have criminal records expunged in any other jurisdiction, then you need to consult a lawyer who’s licensed in that condition to provide you advice and information.

1. What is expungement?

Expungement is the procedure by which criminal records could be destroyed, typically after a definite length of time or an effect in court – for instance, following an acquittal, nolle prosequi, probation before judgment, or alternative dismissal of this charge.

Although this guide is all about expungement, I wish to point out a significant difference between expunging documents and sealing documents. Expungement implies that the documents are completely ruined. It’s like the offense never occurred, or the listing of this offense doesn’t exist. Sealing means that the documents remain there, however, a court order forbids them from being viewed by the majority of people.

2. What criminal records could be expunged?

It’s necessary to be aware that not all criminal documents, fees, effects, convictions, etc. could be expunged. But when it’s ascertained that documents can be expunged, normally all documents inside any court, correctional facility, detention center, law enforcement agency, or criminal justice information recorder regarding that individual ‘s criminal fee will be expunged. This normally includes information pertaining to apprehension, arrest, detention, trial, or mood for that specific crime.