DUI Arrest Records in Manassas
After a person is formally charged with driving under the influence, the charge will be placed on their arrest record. In general, these arrest records can be accessed by a layperson, depending on a person’s age and whether or not they are a minor. As such, having a mark on your record for a DUI in Manassas can be readily available for almost any person to view. This accessibility may have a negative impact on a person’s ability to procure work in the future or their academic options.
Public Accessibility of Manassas DUI Arrest Records
Arrest records are available to the public to the extent that they are located on the court’s website. If a person is charged in the General District Court or the Circuit Court, anyone can search on the particular court’s website and see what charges are pending and the outcomes of those cases.
For Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court record (when juvenile is charged, is the alleged victim, or a family member is the alleged victim), those files are sealed from public view. In terms of general access to a person’s criminal record or arrest record, only the police and the prosecutor have access to a complete record through a VCIN (statewide) report or NCIC (nationwide) report unless you consent to a background check. However, it is true that local charges can be looked up on the local court website.
Mug shots are available to the public in Manassas through the Prince William County Police’s page within the County’s website. These are often picked up by other websites and republished.
Consequences of a Public Arrest Record
The consequences of having a public arrest record for a Manassas DUI charge can be far-reaching. There are a number of areas in a person’s life that can be affected by having a conviction record or an arrest record. These include things such as employers, schools, or even securing loans. It is often true that an embarrassing charge or even a conviction cannot be completely hidden from people who might want to find out about it.
A person looking for such information must know exactly what jurisdiction to look in because they can search only one jurisdiction at a time. Nevertheless, arrest records are pubic information and available for the public to consume. That can result in negative consequences for some people.
Public Records After DUI Acquittals
When someone is acquitted of a DUI charge in Manassas, they still have an arrest record that is available to the public. It is available two different ways. First, it appears on the court’s website for the court in which the person was charged. It shows the person was acquitted of the charge. It also shows the person was charged with the DUI.
In this situation, to have that record removed; a person must go through the expungement process in the Circuit Court in the same jurisdiction in which the charge was made. The record is also kept in a statewide as well as a nationwide database. These are the databases used when a business, governmental entity, or anyone else requests a criminal background check. Every charge made anywhere in the United States is reported to national database and appears in that system unless and until there is a court order which requires that record to be sealed. All Virginia charges also appear in the statewide database unless sealed by court order.
This is something that is accomplished through the expungement process. It is not automatic upon dismissal of the case. It is a separate proceeding that must be filed in a Circuit Court with the assistance of a lawyer.
Options for Dealing With a Manassas Arrest Record
There are a number of ways to deal with an arrest record in Manassas depending upon the outcome of the case. In Virginia, a person’s arrest record can in most cases be expunged if they are found not guilty at the end of the trial or if the government voluntarily dismisses the case. Unfortunately, there is no way to expunge a charge in Virginia when there is a conviction unless the Governor’s office issues and unconditional pardon.
If Found Not Guilty
In the event a person is found not guilty or the charge is dismissed by the government, there is an expungement process in the Circuit Court that causes the record to be sealed both within the court itself, as well as within the State and Federal databases where arrest and conviction information are kept.
When someone is convicted of a charge and they want to have it removed from their record, the only way to accomplish that is to receive an absolute pardon from the Governor of Virginia. This is something an individual can get information about from the Governor’s website. Pardons are granted under the right circumstances, but a person should consult with a Manassas DUI attorney to determine whether that is something they should pursue.
Record Sealing vs. Record Expungement
In Manassas, there is no practical difference between expungement and record sealing. Most of the time when someone uses the word expungement, they believe a record is completely wiped out or removed. In Manassas, when someone receives an expungement, it is not a complete removal of the record, but rather it is a sealing of the record. It operates the same way as a sealing because no one can gain access to those sealed records without a court order.
The only way a court order is issued to unseal records is when a person subsequently is convicted of a felony and the court is reviewing sentencing guidelines. Under the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines, the court must consider previous arrests and charges for purposes of determining punishment. However, outside of that, no one sees that record, not even on a background check, not even from a government agency.