Virginia Record Sealing & Expungement Blog

How to Remove Your Data from the Virginia Status and Case Information System

Last updated: May 20, 2024

Virginia’s new record sealing laws permit personal information regarding criminal convictions to be removed online from the Virginia status and case information system. Virginia’s criminal records are made public through Virginia’s Online Case Information System. This system provides information about criminal charges and convictions from Virginia General District and Circuit Court cases. The system can be accessed by the general public to view criminal convictions. Fortunately, now Virginia’s new record sealing laws under Virginia Code sections 19.2–392.5 – 19.2-398.17 allow criminal convictions to be removed from Virginia’s online case information system, so that they can no longer be seen by the public (effective July 1, 2025).

Virginia’s legal landscape is witnessing a significant transformation with the enactment of new record sealing laws. These laws are poised to bring about crucial changes in how criminal records are handled in Virginia. Understanding the implications of these laws is essential for individuals with past criminal records, as well as for the general public.

How are Virginia Criminal Records accessed by the Public?

The Virginia Judiciary System website provides access to court case information through:

  • Online Case Information System: Offers details on criminal and traffic cases across General District Courts. Virginia’s Online Case Information System contains court records from both the General District Courts and Circuit Courts. It includes data on criminal charges, statuses, and outcomes, impacting individuals’ lives for years to come.
  • Court Case Management System (CCMS): Provides docket details for Circuit Courts.
  • Appellate Case Management System (ACMS): Information on appeals and petitions in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
  • Physical access at an individual jurisdiction’s Clerk’s Office.

illustration of woman in business suit being held back by white tapeVirginia’s Record Sealing Laws Protect Your Privacy

Record sealing refers to the legal process of restricting access to certain criminal records. This means that the records are effectively hidden from public view, making them inaccessible to most employers, landlords, and the general public. The primary goal of record sealing is to provide individuals with a fresh start.

In the past, Virginia criminal convictions remained on a person’s criminal record for life and the conviction was always in the public view with Virginia’s Online Case Information System. A criminal conviction is the result of a legal process where a person is found guilty of a crime. In Virginia, these convictions are recorded in the Virginia Case Information System (VCIS), a public database accessible by employers, landlords, and other institutions. Court cases in Virginia are a matter of public record, meaning that they can be accessed by anyone. However, the recent legislative changes have introduced accessible and streamlined procedures for record sealing. These new laws aim to strike a balance between public safety and individual privacy rights.

Under the new laws, individuals with certain misdemeanor and felony convictions are now eligible to petition the court for record sealing after completing a period of time without any additional criminal convictions. This represents a significant departure from the previous laws, which did not allow sealing or expungement of criminal convictions.

Impact on Virginia’s Case Information System

One of the most notable aspects of Virginia’s new record sealing laws is their impact on the Virginia’s Case Information System. Previously, individuals with criminal convictions would have their names and charges visible in the system forever. However, under the new laws, sealed records will be completely removed from the system, ensuring greater privacy and security for affected individuals.

For individuals looking to remove a criminal conviction from Virginia’s Case Information System, filing a petition to seal is the only option (provided the conviction does not qualify for automatic sealing under Virginia Code section 19.2-392.6). By allowing for the removal of names and charges from the Virginia’s Case Information System, these laws offer a chance for affected individuals to move forward with their lives without the stigma of their past mistakes.

Everything you need to know about Virginia’s New Record Sealing Laws:

In 2021, Virginia enacted legislation that allows criminal convictions to be sealed from public view.  For the first-time ever, eligible Virginians with criminal convictions will finally be given a fresh start to pursue better employment, housing and educational opportunities.  While the legislation was passed in 2021, it will not be effective until July 1, 2025, unless the required computer infrastructure is operational prior to that date.

What does sealing a conviction mean?

Virginia Code § 19.2-392.5 defines sealing as “restricted dissemination.” For practical purposes, this means that a prior criminal conviction becomes invisible.  Once sealed, criminal convictions cannot be accessed by most private and public employers, landlords, home sellers, the public or insurance companies.

Why seal a conviction?
Virginia Code § 19.2-392.15 says that when a criminal conviction is sealed most employers cannot ask about a sealed conviction and the applicant can deny the arrest and conviction. This puts applicants with sealed convictions on equal footing when applying for new jobs. Virginia Code Section § 19.2-392.15 also says that when a criminal conviction is sealed, landlords cannot ask about a sealed conviction and the applicant can deny the arrest and conviction. Sealed convictions are also removed from the Virginia online docketing system which removes the public stigma of criminal convictions.

With over 1.6 million Virginians that have at least one criminal conviction, sealing will be a potentially life changing opportunity for thousands of those who take advantage of this opportunity.
What is Automatic Sealing?
Virginia Code § 19.2-392.6 (effective July 1, 2025, or sooner) mandates certain qualifying convictions be automatically sealed for eligible people. This means anyone who is eligible will have these convictions sealed without taking any action and receive all the benefits of sealing a conviction.
Which convictions will be automatically sealed?
All of the convictions that qualify for automatic sealing are misdemeanors: petit larceny, concealing merchandise, trespass, distribution of marijuana, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct. People are eligible for automatic sealing if there are no new criminal convictions for seven years after the date of conviction and there were no convictions that do not qualify for automatic sealing at the date of conviction.

What is Sealing by Petition
Virginia Code § 19.2-392.12 provides for certain convictions to be sealed by petition. A petition is a legal document that asks a court to order some action.  Petition-based sealing generally describes the process whereby an individual petitions a court to have their criminal record sealed and the court determines whether to grant or deny the sealing petition.

illustration of a hand holding a magnifying glass over search results for the term "JOB"

Which convictions can be sealed by petition?

Almost every misdemeanor except DUI’s and domestic assault may be sealed by petition. Grand larceny (and felonies deemed punishable as grand larceny) and Class 5 and 6 felonies may also be sealed by petition.

This creates a total of over 100 criminal offenses that can be sealed by petition. Contact a qualified attorney with experience in this area of law to discuss whether your particular conviction qualifies for sealing and if you are eligible.

Who is eligible to have a qualifying conviction sealed?

Virginia Code § 19.2-392.12 establishes certain requirements for a conviction to be sealed.

The petitioner cannot ever have been convicted of Class 1 or 2 felony or a felony carrying a possible life sentence.  The petitioner also cannot have been convicted of a Class 3 or 4 felony within the last 20 years or any felony within the last ten years of the petition.

Further, the petitioner must have no new convictions in the past seven years for a misdemeanor and ten years for a felony (from the date of conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later).  If the conviction record shows drug dependence, the petitioner must prove rehabilitation. And lastly, the petitioner must prove the continued existence of the conviction constitutes manifest injustice. There is a lifetime limit of two charges sealed.

Which convictions can be sealed by petition?

Virginia Code § 19.2-392.12 precludes the following charges from ever being sealed:  DUI, domestic assault, involuntary manslaughter, operating watercraft while intoxicated resulting in injury, Class 1-4 felonies and unclassified felonies not specifically authorized.

What’s the difference between sealing and expungement?

Virginia will have two types of record clearing laws: expungement and sealing. Expungement is for charges that were acquitted or dismissed. Sealing is for convictions or charges that were deferred and dismissed.

Practically, there is very little difference in the effect of sealing and expunging since sealed convictions cannot be seen by most employers, landlords, are required to be removed from “business screening services” and the general public cannot see or access sealed convictions.

What if I haven’t paid my court costs from the conviction?

There is no requirement that court costs or restitution be paid prior to sealing a conviction. Virginia Code § 19.2-392.5 provides that sealing a conviction does not relieve the person of these obligations. So, court costs and restitution will still need to be satisfied after a conviction is sealed.

Clean Slate Virginia is here to help!

The new sealing legislation has finally made Virginia a state of second chances. For people who have endured the public stigma and economic hardships of a criminal conviction, Virginia is finally providing a second chance! Contact Clean Slate Virginia today so we can help “erase your record!”



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