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Juvenile Records: Is Expungement an Option?

          Many teenagers feel invincible and can be careless, as a result. This often results in minor run-ins with law enforcement. However, a mistake that someone made as minor will not necessarily have to follow him or her around the rest of their adult life. A juvenile record may automatically become cleared depending on what offense was committed or the individual may be able to petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to have their record expunged. Expunging a record is essentially the clearing or deleting of a person’s legal or criminal past. The crime or charge will be completely removed from the criminal record and it will be as though it never occurred. In most cases, the person will not even have to report it on a job or college application. This applies only to cases adjudicated in the JDR Court regarding a juvenile. The law differs if the juvenile was tried as an adult, or if an adult is charged or convicted. The Virginia Code makes clear what can and cannot be expunged and when the expungement can take place. Expunging a juvenile record depends on a number of things, such as the type of crime committed or the hearing that took place, current age of the individual, and the last hearing date of the case.


If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor, two things must occur before Virginia allows their record to be expunged. The person must be 19 years old and five years must have passed since the last time the case was heard by the court. This includes any misdemeanors where the person was found not guilty or the case was dismissed entirely.

Traffic Offenses

If the juvenile was found guilty of a traffic offense, such as speeding, the record will be retained until the juvenile reaches the age of 29. However, if the juvenile was convicted of a felony traffic offense, then the record will fall under the rule for felonies.


         Juvenile felonies are not allowed to be expunged according to the Virginia Code. This applies only if the juvenile was found guilty of the felony charge. Not guilty verdicts, nolle prosequi cases, or dismissed felonies will be expunged if the person reaches the age of 19 and five years have passed since the last hearing date of the charge.

        Even if a juvenile’s record may not be expunged automatically, the individual can petition the court and seek to have the record expunged. This can be a complicated process. If you are unsure if your record falls within one of the categories for automatic expungement or you need help completing all of the necessary paperwork for the court, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney who has experience in this area. A good lawyer will help ease your mind and guide you in each step of the expungement process.


An outstanding job on my case to have custody, visitation and support decided in my home state instead of Virginia after I separated from military service.- A.E.