RICHMOND, VA—The Virginia House Democratic Caucus celebrates the passage of HB 2113, a bill that would establish a process for automatic expungement, by the Virginia House of Delegates today. Automatic expungement is one of the House Democratic Caucus’ 2021 Legislative Session priorities in its ongoing efforts to eliminate systemic racism from the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system and create a more equitable Virginia.
“A clean slate is essential to help Virginians who are trying to turn their lives around. For too long our criminal justice system has failed our most vulnerable communities– disproportionately impacted communities of color, while at the same time uplifting the privileged,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring, “I am proud to sponsor this necessary legislation that will change the lives of so many in Virginia. People who have served their sentence and gone on to be upstanding members of society should not continue to be punished for past mistakes, instead they should be allowed to fully reintegrate into society and contribute to our Commonwealth”
This legislation would allow those with certain non-violent felony and misdemeanor convictions and charges in Virginia to have their records expunged. Even a conviction for a minor offense can create a barrier in a person’s life keeping them from getting a job, finding housing, and obtaining government assistance later in life, affecting families for generations. HB 2113 creates a process that will give thousands of Virginians a second chance and allow them to create stronger futures.
The House version of this legislation deals with automatic expungement, which has been studied and endorsed by the Virginia Crime Commission. Automatic expungement does not require applicants to file a court petition and pay legal fees, making it a more equitable approach since it does not favor those with greater resources and connections.
“The Virginia House Democrats are committed to building a better Virginia, which includes reforming our justice system so it works equitably and effectively for each person in the Commonwealth,” said House Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan. “The Caucus has prioritized automatic expungement during this legislative session, and we stand beside Leader Herring in her efforts to help Virginians move forward by giving them a second chance.”
According to the Virginia Crime Commission, five other states have already enacted automatic expungement, including Utah.