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When Does a Drug Case Dismissal Stay Off Your Criminal Record?

Interviewer: Even if a case was dismissed, does that mean that it will go completely off my record?

Acquittals Do Not Remain on the Record, Other Dismissals Must Be Expunged

Brian Geno: If you won the case by acquittal, yes. You win and it doesn’t go against you. If you want to, you can have the actual arrest expunged from your record. However, if you’re convicted in anyway, in other words if they reduce the charge and you’re convicted of a misdemeanor, because it was amended to that smaller case, you can’t get it expunged.

The answer to that is yes or no. If you just win, you can get it removed. An acquittal in my mind doesn’t hurt a person because he’s successfully proven that he did not do it.

When Can You Expunge a Charge?

Interviewer: How much time must elapse before you can have it expunged?

Brian Geno: For an adult to get an expungement, you have to file a petition and it takes about from start to finish from the time you say you walked in to my office today and asked me to do the expungement petition, it would take me three or four days to get everything I need together; fingerprinting, criminal background check, all that, filing the case.

We could actually have a hearing probably three to four weeks after we started. That’s not because I’m delaying three or four weeks, it’s because I’m preparing the case and submitting it and it takes the government three or four weeks to do their background check that sort of thing.

If a Judge Approves the Expungement, Notice Is Sent to the Appropriate Government Agencies

Then we have a hearing. At the hearing we prove that the charge was definitely able to be expunged and should be expunged and that it would do a manifest injustice to stay on your record. Then that hearing is real easy to set, but after the judge grants the expungement, the government passes that order around. They send it first to the police department. They send it to the Virginia Criminal Records Exchange.

They send it to wherever criminal records are kept in the State of Virginia and one by one they take it out of their system and remove it. The last one is the Virginia Criminal Records Exchange. They report back to the court, the court sends a copy of the successful expungement order to you and they raise it from their record.

The Process to Remove the Charge Typically Takes 3 Months

The process of passing it around can take several months. They say they want three to four months to finalize what they’re doing. I find it typically takes two, every bit of two and sometimes as much as three months for them to pass it around and successfully prove to you that it’s really gone from the records of the State of Virginia.