Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Can I Expunge My Washington, DC Criminal Record?

Whether or not someone can have their Washington, DC criminal records expunged (or sealed) depends on a few circumstances.  First, whether or not someone is convicted or simply arrested makes a big difference when determining whether their record can be expunged.  If an individual is arrested for a crime but is not ultimately convicted (either the case was dismissed or the person was acquitted after trial) then they can generally have the record expunged.  There are two methods for expunging a non-conviction.  The first is to wait a statutorily prescribed amount of time and file an appropriate motion to seal with the court.  The waiting period is usually two or five years from the date the case is dismissed or an individual is acquitted.  The court will consider whether it is in the interests of justice to seal an individual's record.  If the court determines that it is in the interests of justice, the record will be sealed.

The other method is to file a motion with the court claiming actual innocence.  Under this method usually a hearing is held where the individual claiming actual innocence must prove to the court either that the crime did not occur or that they were not the person who committed the crime.  It is important to note that even if someone is acquitted at trial it does not necessarily mean that the court will consider them actually innocence.  Being acquitted simply means the government failed to prove you were guilty, it does not necessarily mean you are innocent.  The major advantage to filing a motion to seal for actual innocence is that there is no waiting period.

If an individual has been convicted of a crime, meaning a finding of guilt and a sentence has been entered on the record, then they are much less likely going to be able to expunge their record.  If an individual is convicted of a felony offense (unless the felony is a violation of the Bail Reform Act) then that conviction can NEVER be expunged from their record.  In addition, there are a number of misdemeanor offenses that also can never be expunged.  However, individuals convicted of eligible misdemeanors can have their conviction expunged after a ten year waiting period if the court determines it is in the interests of justice to do so.

An experienced Washington, DC expungement and record sealing lawyer should be able to assist you with the expungement of your record.  In addition please refer to D.C. Code Title 16, Chapter 8 for more information on expungement and record sealing.  Please contact Sean J. Farrelly for a full and free consultation to discuss your criminal record expungement.

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