General Assembly Working Out Differences Over Conviction Expungement

Oct 8, 2020

Credit MBandman / Flickr, Creative Commons:

Leaders in the House and Senate are trying to work out their differences on expunging old convictions.

Democrats in the House of Delegates want to automatically expunge old convictions for a number of misdemeanors that are non-violent, non-DUI, non-sexual crimes. They also want automatic expungement for some drug-related felonies.

Some senators are pushing back against that, but House Majority Leader Charniele Herring says the House approach has support on both sides of the aisle in both chambers. 

“I have some bipartisan support on this in the Senate. So you know I think there are a few senators who just at first glance when they heard the word ‘automatic’ they just didn’t like it and they’re sort of stuck in it," she explains. "But that’s OK. We still have this committee process.”

Senator Scott Surovell says senators are also concerned about automatic expungement of charges that are dismissed. 

“Whether it was dismissed because a witness didn’t show up or persuaded your abused spouse to drop the case against you," Surovell says. "They want to automatically expunge those kinds of things. And that’s what we’re fighting about.”

Herring and Surovell both say there’s room to negotiate, and they’re working out their differences behind closed doors in a conference committee.

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