Can Criminal Charges Be Expunged in Alexandria, Fairfax and the entire Northern Virginia Area?

Expungement Of Criminal Charges In VirginiaNo, and sometimes Yes!  There is no expungement available in Virginia for any criminal convictions, including a DUI conviction.  If a person pleads guilty, is found guilty, or pleads “no contest” to a DUI charge, then they will have a Permanent Criminal Record for a Class 1 Misdemeanor for the rest of their life.  It will greatly hinder, or block their ability to get many jobs; to get a security clearance; to obtain many “licenses”; to successfully apply for many apartment rentals; to get into many colleges; etc.  A person with a DUI conviction will not even be able to be accepted as a volunteer to coach their children’s sports leagues at their school, or coach in many organized sports league.  Their auto insurance rates will dramatically increase; and the damaging cost to their quality of life will be incalculable. In essence, a DUI conviction will dramatically and negatively affect their life forever, in ways that they cannot even imagine.

This said, if we are able to have their DUI charge “nolle prossed/ dismissed” or they are found “not guilty” at the Trial Court, or on Appeal, without any terms or conditions attached to it, then the client would be eligible to have us file a Petition For Expungement with the Circuit Court.  When the Petition/Order To Expunge is granted by the Circuit Court, then the FBI, Homeland Security, Immigration, and all law enforcement, and court systems, nationwide, will be ordered to seal and expunge any history of the DUI charge and arrest record of the Client- effectively enabling the client to go “Back to the future”, and never have had a DUI charge in the first place!

Do People Understand The Implications Of A “Restricted” Driver’s License?

No.  Most people have no conception of how a “Restricted” License works.  They are shocked when they learn that it is mandatory that they lose their driver’s license (driving privilege) for an entire year, if they are convicted of a DUI. They may be able to qualify for a

“Restricted” License for the very narrow and strict purposes of only going to and from work, school, doctor appointments, church, school and healthcare for children and elderly parents, etc.; but, they will also have to pay for the installation and rental of an Ignition Interlock system on their primary vehicle for a minimum of six months.  These restrictions, and more, are specific to the “minute”.  They literally apply exactly to the day and time when you leave your house for these activities, and back; and require that they always take the most direct and shortest route possible between their home and work/ home and school/home and doctors, etc.

People simply do not understand, and cannot grasp, the fact that a “Restricted License” does not even allow them to go to the grocery store, at all; no “quick” stops at 7-11 or McDonalds; no stops to even put gas in their car.  That’s right! They cannot even get food, medicine, or gas for themselves.  How do they get their food, medicine, or gas? The Court simply doesn’t care.  The law doesn’t care.  That’s their problem to solve for themselves if they get a DUI conviction in Virginia.

A person with a “Restricted” License will be arrested if they get pulled over during that year, even if they’ve just gone off the main road to stop at a gas station, CVS or 7-11.  They may have just been pulled over for not using their turn signal, or having a taillight out-but after running their license information through their computer, the Police Officer will see they have a Restricted” License.  Then and there they will be arrested, their car will be impounded, and they will be taken to jail and charged with Driving On a Suspended License (also a Class One Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail); as well as facing a “Probation Violation” on their DUI conviction.

If this happens, the person faces not only one year in jail for Driving on Suspended/DUI- Related, but they are facing some or all of the likely suspended jail time that is hanging over their head for one year from the date of conviction of their prior DUI conviction.  People don’t understand what a “Restricted” License really means; they think it’s a “license” to do whatever they want to do; but it’s actually a potential “license for failure”, hanging over their head for one year

Is It A “Trap” For Someone To Get A “Restricted” License?

Not necessarily, but it can be a trap for some people.  I have had clients who did not want to get a “Restricted” License related to a DUI charge because they knew themselves well; and knew that they could not drive within the strict terms of the “Restricted” License rules and restrictions. They knew that they would likely go out and get a beer now and then, even though they are required to be abstinent from all alcohol for one year.  They knew that they would likely violate their “Restricted” License and go to jail with any alcohol on their breath, if ever stopped by the Police-especially when they must blow into their Ignition Interlock device every time they want to start the car- and randomly have to pull their car over when driving, to stop and blow. Frankly, I applaud these people.

They know themselves-and they know that they will be setting themselves up for failure with a “Restricted” License. Most people do want and need a “Restricted” License, and they get it; but their attorney needs to tell them frankly, and in depth, about their responsibilities under a “Restricted” License, so that the client has no doubts or misunderstandings about how, when, and where they can and cannot drive.  In my Law Office, when a client qualifies for, and needs a “Restricted” License, we take a significant amount of time to educate them about the terms and conditions of their “Restricted” License… the good and the bad of a “Restricted” License; and how to avoid the bad.  We set them up for success, not failure!

Are There Any “Probation Before Judgment” Or “Diversion Programs” Available For DUI Convictions In Virginia?

No.  There are no probation or diversion programs in Virginia for any DUI charge. It is “all or nothing” under Virginia law, which is extremely harsh. There is no “Probation Before Judgment”, no “First-Time Offenders” program; no “Diversion Programs”; or anything that will result in an ultimate dismissal of a DUI conviction. So, the person will either be convicted of the DUI at trial; found not guilty at trial; or, the attorney may be able to negotiate with the Prosecutor to have the DUI charge dismissed or reduced prior to any trial. This said, a recent Virginia Supreme Court decision theoretically allows the DUI Defense Attorney to “request” a Deferred Disposition. But, this is not the statutory law in Virginia.

For more information on Expungement of Criminal Charges, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (703) 313-2727 today.

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