A DUI can have a lasting impact on your life, regardless of whether or not you were actually convicted in court. If a DUI appears on your record, anyone who files a criminal background check to examine your history can see that a DUI charge was filed. This might limit your ability to pursue certain opportunities, such as housing or employment. However, depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible to have your DUI expunged from your records if you live in Virginia. Here’s what you need to know about how the process works, as well as who is eligible for expungement and who is not.
What Does Expungement Mean?
Expungement is the process of removing a charge permanently from a person’s criminal record. Thus, if a charge has been expunged, people who view that person’s criminal record-such as through a background check-will no longer be able to see it at all. This is different from making a note or including information about the result of the case in the record, which may show that the person was found innocent or guilty. Expungement completely erases the event.
When a DUI Expungement Is an Option
In Virginia, there are limited circumstances in which an expungement for a DUI is possible. However, in order to qualify, you will need to meet very specific criteria.
If you faced a DUI charge and then went to court, but you were acquitted rather than convicted, you may be eligible to have the DUI expunged from your record. Acquittal means that the judge determined that you were not guilty.
In some rare circumstances, it is possible that the prosecution-the party bringing the case against you-may abandon the case. For example, if there is not sufficient evidence to bring to court, the prosecution may decide to abandon your case, and it will not go before a judge. However, the fact that you were charged would still appear on your record, and you may be eligible to have it expunged.
Abandonment by the prosecution is just one of many ways that the charges in a DUI case could be dismissed. If your case was dismissed, you may qualify to have your charges expunged from your record.
When DUI Expungement Is Not Possible
It is true that a DUI can make life difficult after a conviction, and it would be nice to have that element removed from your criminal record. However, in cases in which the defendant (that is, the person who was charged with the DUI) is found guilty and convicted of the crime, expungement is not an option.
If you were found guilty of a DUI, you will not be able to have that charge expunged from your record, even if you completed rehabilitative classes.
How to File for Expungement in Virginia
Filing for expungement of a DUI charge in Virginia is best done with the help of a legal professional, because it requires significantly more than just some paperwork. Even if you fall into one of the potentially qualifying categories for expungement explained above, you may not end up securing the expungement.
In order to file for expungement, you will need to demonstrate manifest injustice. This term refers to an objective and measurable unfairness as a result of the charges. In other words, you must be able to prove that you have suffered tangible losses due to the existence of the charge on your record. You can do this by showing that you were denied a job, turned down for housing or saw a change in your credit as a result.
If you cannot demonstrate that manifest injustice has already occurred, your petition for DUI expungement will likely be denied. This is true regardless of whether there is a potential for manifest injustice to occur in the future. Thus, it is smart to work with a legal professional who can help you build a robust case. Being acquitted of your DUI charge or having the case dropped is not, by itself, sufficient to have the DUI expunged.
Work with Legal Professionals to Help Support Your Expungement Request
Whether you have already experienced severe repercussions from your DUI charge or you are fearful of how it may impact you in the future, a legal professional can help you to explore your expungement options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to learn more about your situation and help you build a case to have your DUI expunged if possible. Reach out to learn more or to schedule a consultation to get started.