Virginia Record Sealing & Expungement Blog

Virginia’s New Record Sealing Laws impact on the Virginia Case Status and Information System

Last updated: June 21, 2024

A seated, young man high-fives a man with glasses who is standing, in an office boardroom.In the evolving landscape of criminal justice reform, Virginia is taking a significant step forward with the introduction of its new record sealing laws, often referred to as “expungement laws” by the public and even lawyers. Set to take effect on July 1, 2025, these laws promise to transform the lives of countless individuals by allowing their names and information to be removed from Virginia’s online case status and information system. This article delves into the nuances of these laws, their implications, and the broader context of criminal record management.

What are Record Sealing and Expungement?

Before diving into the specifics of Virginia’s new legislation, it’s important to distinguish between two often-confused terms: record sealing and expungement. Both processes aim to protect individuals from the long-lasting consequences of a criminal record, but they function in slightly different ways.

  • Record Sealing: This process restricts access to a person’s criminal record, making it invisible to most background checks. However, the record is not destroyed and can still be accessed by law enforcement and certain government agencies.
  • Expungement: This is a more permanent solution where the record is completely erased as if the offense never occurred. Expunged records are inaccessible even to law enforcement and government agencies in most cases.

Virginia’s new laws fall primarily under the category of record sealing, but they are often referred to as “expungement” due to their profound impact on individuals’ lives.

The Scope of Virginia’s New Record Sealing Laws

The new legislation in Virginia is a comprehensive overhaul designed to facilitate the reintegration of individuals into society by removing barriers posed by past criminal records. Here are the key aspects of the new laws:

  1. Eligibility Criteria: Not all criminal records will qualify for sealing. The law outlines specific criteria for eligibility, including the nature of the offense, the time elapsed since the conviction, and the individual’s behavior post-conviction. Generally, misdemeanors and certain felony offenses may be eligible.
  2. Automatic vs. Petition-Based Sealing: One of the groundbreaking features of Virginia’s law is the introduction of automatic sealing for certain offenses. This means that eligible records will be sealed without the individual having to file a petition. For other offenses, individuals will need to go through a petition-based process, which involves filing a formal request with the court.
  3. Impact on Public Records: Once a record is sealed, the individual’s name and information will be removed from Virginia’s online case status and information system. This means that employers, landlords, and other entities conducting background checks will not have access to these records.

The Benefits of Record Sealing

The implementation of these laws is expected to yield numerous benefits for individuals and society at large:

  • Employment Opportunities: A sealed record can significantly enhance an individual’s employability by removing the stigma associated with a criminal history. Employers often reject candidates based on past offenses, but with sealed records, individuals have a fairer chance to compete in the job market.
  • Housing Access: Landlords frequently conduct background checks on prospective tenants. Sealing criminal records can improve housing opportunities for individuals with past convictions, enabling them to secure better living conditions.
  • Social Reintegration: Removing the visibility of criminal records fosters better social reintegration, reducing recidivism rates. Individuals are more likely to contribute positively to society when they are not perpetually punished for past mistakes.

Navigating the Record Sealing Process

For those looking to take advantage of Virginia’s new record sealing laws, understanding the process is crucial:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Clean Slate Virginia will review the eligibility criteria outlined in the law with you. Clean Slate Virginia can provide guidance on whether a specific offense qualifies for sealing.
  2. Automatic Sealing: For offenses that qualify for automatic sealing, no action is required from the individual. The state will handle the sealing process.
  3. Petition-Based Sealing: For other offenses, individuals must file a petition with the court. This involves gathering necessary documents, completing legal forms, and possibly attending a court hearing. Clean Slate Virginia will navigate this process for you.


Virginia’s new record sealing laws represent a monumental shift in the state’s approach to criminal justice. By allowing individuals to remove their names and information from public access, these laws offer a second chance to those who have served their time and demonstrated their commitment to a law-abiding life. As the July 1, 2025, implementation date approaches, it is crucial for eligible individuals to understand their rights and take the necessary steps to benefit from these transformative laws.

The path to a fresh start is now clearer than ever, and Virginia is leading the way in ensuring that past mistakes do not dictate future opportunities. For those seeking guidance, Clean Slate Virginia stands ready to assist in navigating this promising new landscape.

This blog post aims to inform and empower those affected by criminal records, offering them hope and practical steps to reclaim their lives. For more information or personalized assistance, consider reaching out to Clean Slate Virginia, a law firm dedicated to helping individuals navigate the complexities of Virginia’s record sealing laws.


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