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There's No Way to Expunge a Conviction in Virginia, And One Lawmaker Wants to Change That


When defendants are convicted of crimes, that court record is permanent in Virginia. But, one lawmaker is suggesting the General Assembly consider the possibility of expunging the record for some of those convicted.

Consider the example of the troubled teenager who gets caught stealing. After a conviction, that court record is permanent. Unlike most other states, there’s no way to expunge a conviction in Virginia.

But Delegate Mike Mullin of Newport News says Virginia should consider a system of expunging the record for some of these cases. 

“We’ve spent too long here in Virginia criminalizing mental health and addiction," Mullin explains. "And too many people over the course of the last 30 years on the tough on crime era and the War on Drugs have gotten themselves caught up unnecessarily in the criminal justice system.”

That’s an idea that’s not shared among some prosecutors. 

“Employers need to know about these convictions,” says Mike Doucette, director of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Association. “In other words the state is saying, ‘OK you employer you don’t have a right to know this particular information.’”

Mullin is suggesting a study looking at how other states handle expungement and what kinds of convictions might be appropriate to expunge in Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.