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Washington, D.C. Expungement Lawyer

Washington, D.C. is a jurisdiction that allows the sealing of criminal records. When a record is sealed or expunged, the public no longer has access to the criminal record.  An expungement of your criminal record can be extremely beneficial when applying for jobs.  It can also be beneficial when attempting to maintain a job, because it prevents employers from viewing past charges and prior convictions.

Record- Sealing in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C. there are five different ways to seal or expunge your criminal record.  In each of these instances, you are required to file a formal motion before the court.  These five record-sealing options are as follows:

1)  Actual Innocence Expungement

If you are seeking to expunge your criminal record based on the fact that you are actually innocent of a crime, you must prove you did not commit the offense.  These motions are best when filed within four years of the case being terminated because the standard for proving your innocence is lower.  After four years from the case's termination, there  is a higher standard that you are held to when proving your innocence.

Under an actual innocence motion, keep in mind you may not necessarily be entitled to an expungement  just because you were acquitted of the offense or found not-guilty after a trial.  Not only do you have to demonstrate that the case was terminated, you must provide details surrounding your innocence. This is why it is important to ensure your case is properly evaluated before this type of motion is filed.

2) Expungement After a Waiting Period

Proving your innocence can be difficult even when you did not commit the crime you were previously charged with.  This is why filing an expungement after allowing a "waiting period" to pass is the most common type of expungement filed in D.C.  Waiting period expungements will only be granted by the court if it is in the interest of justice.

The law on waiting period expungements is quite difficult to understand.  These expungements can be broken down into two main types: non-conviction waiting period expungements, and conviction waiting period expungements.  Before you can file either of these types of expungements, you must first be familiar with a few important definitions.

  • Ineligible misdemeanors-  all the misdemeanor offenses outlined in D.C. Code 16-801 (9).
  • Eligible Misdemeanors- any misdemeanor offense in D.C. that is not on the ineligible misdemeanor list found in D.C. Code 16-801(9).

Non-Conviction Waiting Period Expungement

A non-conviction usually means you were previously charged but the case ended without you being found guilty and sentenced .  This includes cases that have been dismissed by the judge or the government.  It also includes cases where you were found not-guilty at the end of a trial.

Non-Conviction Eligible Misdemeanors: To expunge a non-conviction of an eligible misdemeanor, the minimum waiting period is two years so long as there are no disqualifying arrests or convictions.

Non-Conviction of Any Other Offense:  To expunge a non-conviction of any offense other than an eligible misdemeanor, you must wait at least three years for an arrest was not formally charged.  For cases dismissed after charges have been formally filed, you must wait a minimum of four years.  These minimum waiting periods apply so long as you have no other disqualifying arrests or convictions.

Additional Waiting Periods For Non-Conviction Expungements

  • If you were convicted of an ineligible misdemeanor (see D.C. Code 16-801(9)) , it will not prevent you from expunging any charges that you were not convicted of.  This means you can still expunge a non-conviction, even if you have a conviction on your record that cannot be sealed.  You must wait five years from the date you completed your sentence before filing a motion to expunge your non- conviction.
  • Also, if you were convicted of any felony offense other than a felony bail reform act charge, you must wait ten years before you can expunge your non-conviction.

Conviction Waiting Period Expungement

If you have been convicted of an eligible misdemeanor offense or a felony bail reform act offense, you must wait eight years before you can expunge your record so long as you do not have any disqualifying arrests or convictions.  No other conviction other than a conviction for an eligible misdemeanor or a felony bail reform act violation can be expunged in D.C.   This means that if you are convicted of an ineligible misdemeanor or any felony offense, other than a felony bail reform act violation, these convictions will stay on your record.

3) Incorrect Identification Expungement

If someone incorrectly identified you during an arrest, you may be entitled to expunge any publicly available records related to the arrest.  Two things are required: First, the law enforcement agency involved in the arrest must not have taken any fingerprints at the time of the arrest.  In addition, the person who was arrested must not have presented a reliable form of identification to law enforcement.

4)Fugitive From Justice Expungement

If you are a fugitive from justice this usually means a particular state  wants you to face a charge for an offense you are alleged to have committed.  Most of the time if you are arrested on a warrant as a fugitive from justice, you are likely being arrested in a state outside of the state that you are charged in.  This requires that you be "extradited," or transferred to the state that is requesting your presence in court.  There is no waiting period required for this type of expungement.  All that is required is that you fit the criteria for a fugitive from justice expungement found in D.C. Code 16-803.01.

5) Decriminalized Offense Expungement

Finally, if you were arrested or convicted of a crime that has been decriminalized or that is now legal, you may be entitled to an expungement.

To find out if you qualify for an expungement, CONTACT US or call us today at (202) 403-2292 to speak to a D.C. expungement lawyer.

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