National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Editorial: Public has a right to see criminal records

Like every other human behavior, crime has consequences, and not only for victims and their families. Perpetrators eventually find out that a criminal record can be a major impediment to getting a job, housing or educational benefits. Efforts currently underway in the General Assembly to automatically expunge certain criminal records in Virginia are an attempt to reduce or eliminate those consequences. But legislators should proceed with caution.

Under current law, police and court records are expunged only if a person has received an absolute pardon for a crime he or she did not commit, or in cases where the person has been acquitted or the charges were dismissed.

However, there’s a big difference between that and the automatic and indiscriminate expungement of criminal records just because a certain time has passed. Read more