Get Your Washington D.C. Rap Sheet
Each office has different requirements. For more detailed information on how to get records, come to the Workers’ Rights Clinic – held every Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. at Bread for the City NW, 1525 7th St. NW (List begins at 5 p.m.), and one Monday per month from 3-6 p.m. at Bread for the City SE, 1640 Good Hope Rd. SE.
Free Washington D.C. Record Sealing Forms
District of Columbia Record Sealing in a Nutshell
Sealing An Arrest Record
There are two ways to have an arrest record sealed in Washington, D.C. The first is to file a motion to seal the arrest record on the grounds of actual innocence. In order to assert actual innocence, the person filing the motion must convince the judge either that the offense for which the person was arrested did not occur or that the offense did occur but that it was someone else who committed it. In the case of simple assault or theft, for example, the person submitting the motion might include an affidavit of the alleged victim confirming that the crime never occurred.
The standard of review for a judge considering the motion is a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) if filed within 4 years of the date the prosecution was terminated. If the motion is filed beyond 4 years of this date, the evidence must be clear and convincing; that is, evidence that is highly probable or reasonably certain.
Any type of offense – felony or misdemeanor – is eligible for relief under this type of motion. And this type of motion can be filed immediately after termination of the prosecution.
The effect of a judge granting this motion is to “restore” the person who filed the motion to the “status he or she occupied before being arrested or charged.” In other words, if ever asked by anyone for any purpose whether or not he/she has ever been arrested or charged with a crime, the person can honestly and legally say so no. D.C. Code § 16-802.
For people who are not able to assert actual innocence, the second way to have an arrest record sealed is to wait a period of time (2 years for “eligible misdemeanors” and 5 years for every other offense) before filing the motion. Any open cases or prior convictions render a person ineligible for such relief.
For cases involving “eligible misdemeanors” (see below), the burden is on the prosecution to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is not in the interests of justice to grant relief. For every other offense, the burden is on the person filing the motion to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the interests of justice to grant the motion.
If the motion to seal is granted under these circumstances, the person subject to the relief is able to honestly and legally deny the arrest or charge to anyone other than: (1) any court, (2) any federal, state, or local prosecutor, (3) any law enforcement agency, (4) any licensing agency, (5) any licensed school, day care center, or other facility involving children, (6) any government employer or nominating/tenure commission with respect to employment of a judicial or quasi-judicial officer or employment at a senior-level, executive-grade government position. D.C. Code § 16-803.
Sealing A Conviction
A person who has been convicted of an eligible misdemeanor (see below) or felony violation under the Bail Reform Act must wait 10 years after completion of sentence before filing a motion to seal the conviction. Any open charges or prior convictions would render the person ineligible for relief. The burden is on the person filing the motion to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the interest of justice for the judge to grant relief.
If the motion is granted, the person subject to relief is able to honestly and legally deny the conviction to anyone other than: (1) any court, (2) any federal, state, or local prosecutor, (3) any law enforcement agency, (4) any licensing agency, (5) any licensed school, day care center, or other facility involving children, (6) any government employer or nominating/tenure commission with respect to employment of a judicial or quasi-judicial officer or employment at a senior-level, executive-grade government position. D.C. Code § 16-803.
Sealing of Juvenile Records
A person who has been the subject of juvenile proceedings in D.C. can also file a motion to have all records associated with the case sealed. The person needs to wait until two years after the person has been released from court supervision. In addition, the person cannot have been subsequently convicted of a crime or adjudicated delinquent/in need of supervision. Upon entry of the order, the proceedings will be treated as if they never occurred. D.C. Code § 16-2335.
Self-Help Guides & Instructions
How Do I Seal My Criminal Record?
District of Columbia Courts
Sealing Your Criminal Record
D.C. Bar Pro Bono Project
Sealing and Expungement of Records
Public Defender Service
Is a Criminal Record Keeping You Unemployed?
Employment Justice Center (2012)
How to Expunge a DC Criminal Record
Handling Expungement in Washington DC
Washington D.C. Criminal Record Sealing Statutes
Pardons in the District of Columbia
According to District of Columbia Official Code § 1-307.6, the Mayor has pardon and respite authority in District of Columbia cases. Although the legislative history substantiates this, the Department of Justice interprets this power as a limited one that pertains to the violation of municipal ordinances. The Department of Justice has arrived at this interpretation because of its jurisdiction to prosecute the majority of the criminal cases occurring in the District of Columbia. Additionally, felons who seek pardons do so through the Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney.
Petition for Pardon After Completion of Sentence
U.S. Department of Justice
Ban the Box Legislation
Other Free Legal Resources
The mission of the D.C. Employment Justice Center is to secure, protect and promote workplace justice in the D.C. metropolitan area.
The Georgetown University Law Center, Juvenile Justice Clinic represents youth charged with delinquency in the District of Columbia.
Neighborhood Legal Services Program provides free civil legal services to low-income residents of the District of Columbia.
The Public Defenders Service for the District of Columbia provides and promotes quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia and thereby protects society’s interest in the fair administration of justice.
The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless helps anyone in the District of Columbia who is either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and who needs legal assistance.
Unlocking Employment Opportunity for Previously Incarcerated Persons in the District of Columbia
Council for Court Excellence (2011)
Youth Court of the District of Columbia provides first time nonviolent juvenile offenders the opportunity to make better choices, avoid a criminal record, and create a path to success.
U.S. v Hudson and Expungement in the District of Columbia
American University Law Review (1975)
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to correcting and preventing the conviction of innocent people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
Report on Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia, 2009-2011 was prepared by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and published July, 2013.
The Collateral Consequences of Arrests and Convictions under D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Law
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs (2014)
Returning Citizens and Employment
The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) is charged with enforcing the Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act of 2014, which aims to prevent unlawful screening of a job applicant’s criminal background. OHR accepts and investigates complaints that allege violations of the law, and when violations are found, penalties can be imposed. All complaints must have occurred on or after the law’s effective date of December 17, 2014. The website includes links to resources for job applicants and employers.