Even when convicted of a crime, people have rights. They deserve dignity and respect when pursuing employment, applying for a loan or working on their educational goals. These tasks become significantly more challenging when there is a criminal record involved.

Fortunately, for convicted criminals in Virginia, this could soon change with the introduction of a new law. Pending legislation may improve the circumstances for people who desire to turn their life around and make a positive change.

Expunging criminal records

As one of the few remaining states that do not allow the expungement of any criminal record, some lawmakers in Virginia are pushing for a change. They recognize just how serious of an effect a criminal record can have for people after their release from prison.

The new bill backed by state Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, would extend immediate expungement of minor infractions and present an incentive to people charged with more serious crimes. Depending on the circumstances, after so many years of good behavior, authorities may consider expunging certain records.

Contingencies for expungement

If passed, the legislation would not seal records permanently, but limit their accessibility. People cannot deny their record if asked about it. However, they do not need to disclose their history to government agencies or private employers. Under the new law, the public cannot see criminal history records and expungements.

An expunged record does not excuse people from paying fines, completing restitution and honoring penalties. Additionally, people with a criminal record regardless of its expungement status may have permanent restrictions when purchasing firearms. Any DNA or personal data such as fingerprints on file will remain in database records.