Chesapeake, VA asked in Legal Malpractice and Criminal Law for Virginia

Q: I was ill advised by legal council to enter an Alford plea.

I was also told that all I had to do was be patient and on the 1st year anniversay of the conviction that the records would automatically be sealed. After doing some research, I understand that the only way to qualify for expungement is to be pardoned. Can I request a pardon based on the fact that I was ill advised by legal council?

1 Lawyer Answer
Susan Fremit
Susan Fremit
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Spotsylvania, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The problem is: prove what counsel told you. If it was not in writing or recorded, counsel will likely deny advising you that after a year, the conction would automatically be “sealed”, because that is is so blatantly wrong. It is a long shot to convince a circuit court judge to expunge a conviction when the governor has granted a pardon. But you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by applying for a pardon. Hire an attorney who does pardon applications and know that a response from the governor’s office takes about 2 - 2.5 years.

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