DC Expungement Lawyer

Understanding Expungement and Record Sealing in Washington, DC

If you’re seeking assistance with record sealing or expungement in Washington, DC, our experienced expungement lawyers at Monument Legal can provide the help you need.

Monument Legal specializes in assisting individuals with expungement/record sealing in Washington, DC. An experienced expungement attorney can assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses and provide guidance throughout the legal process to get you the best possible outcome for your circumstances.

Stop delaying and schedule a consult. Find out what you’re facing with a consultation with an experienced DC expungement attorney and rest easier tonight!

Frequently Asked Questions

“Expungement” and “Sealing” are often used interchangeably to refer to the process of making your criminal record invisible to the public or and law enforcement. In the District of Columbia, the Criminal Record Sealing Act outlines who is eligible for record sealing and what type of sealing they qualify for. This process offers individuals the opportunity to move forward without the burden of a criminal conviction in Washington, DC.

You can file a motion to seal an arrest or conviction based on three primary bases:

  1. Interest of Public Justice: Most misdemeanor offenses qualify for sealing when it serves the interest of public justice. Additionally, all dismissed charges are eligible, provided the arrested person can prove “actual innocence.” Arrests and convictions related to subsequently decriminalized or legalized conduct, like marijuana possession, can also be sealed.
  2. Actual Innocence: This basis requires the individual to prove their innocence by a preponderance of the evidence or clear and convincing evidence, with no waiting period and no other restrictions. A hearing before a judge may be required.
  3. Decriminalized or Legalized Conduct: Arrests and convictions related to conduct subsequently legalized or decriminalized, such as possession of marijuana, can be sealed without a waiting period.

In Washington, DC, when determining whether to seal a criminal record based on the interests of justice, the court considers several factors. While specific factors may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, some common considerations include:

  • Nature of the Offense: The severity and nature of the offense are often considered. Less serious offenses may be more likely to be sealed compared to serious violent crimes.
  • Defendant’s Criminal History: The defendant’s criminal history, including past convictions and any patterns of criminal behavior, may influence the court’s decision. A clean record or evidence of rehabilitation may support sealing.
  • Time Since Conviction: The amount of time that has passed since the conviction can be a factor. Generally, the longer the period without further criminal activity, the more likely the court may consider sealing the record.
  • Impact on Rehabilitation: The effect that sealing or not sealing the record may have on the defendant’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society is often taken into account.
  • Public Safety: The court considers whether sealing the record would pose any risks to public safety. This includes assessing whether there are any concerns about recidivism or ongoing criminal behavior.
  • Victim’s Rights and Concerns: The rights and concerns of any victims involved in the case are considered. This may include considerations of restitution or the victim’s opinion on sealing the record.
  • Interest of Justice: The overarching principle of whether sealing the record serves the interest of justice guides the court’s decision. This includes ensuring fairness, protecting privacy rights, and promoting rehabilitation.

In Washington DC, if you want to seal your criminal record based on claiming actual innocence, you’ll need to meet the requirements outlined in DC Code § 16-802. The statute requires you to show:

  • No Conviction: This process only applies if the prosecution for the charges ended without a conviction. Dismissed charges or a “not guilty” verdict qualify.
  • Burden of Proof: You, the person filing the motion (movant), have the burden to prove your innocence by a preponderance of the evidence. This means convincing the judge it’s more likely than not that you are innocent.

Here are two ways to meet the burden of proof for actual innocence:

  • The Offense Never Happened: You need to show the alleged crime never even took place. This could involve alibis, witness testimony, or evidence demonstrating the impossibility of the crime.
  • Someone Else Committed the Offense: You need to prove someone else was responsible for the crime. This might involve evidence identifying the real perpetrator or showing you couldn’t have been involved.

To have your record sealed, the first step is consulting with a DC Expungement lawyer who will review your record and determine whether your case is eligible for record sealing. The record sealing statute is complicated and there are several requirements that must be met in order to proceed with filing a Motion to Seal. Determining your eligibility requires a review of your criminal record and the facts and circumstances of the arrest or conviction.

Once your lawyer has determined your eligibility, they must draft and file a motion with the court requesting that your record be sealed. The prosecutor’s office has the opportunity to determine whether they wish to oppose your motion or fight it. A well-drafted motion increases your chance that the prosecutor will not oppose it.

There are several benefits to having your criminal record sealed in Washington, DC.

  • Employment Opportunities: One of the most substantial benefits of sealing your criminal record is improved access to employment opportunities. Many employers conduct background checks, and having a sealed record means your past convictions won’t show up, making it easier to secure jobs.
  • Housing Opportunities: Landlords and property managers often conduct background checks on prospective tenants. Having a sealed record can increase your chances of being approved for rental housing, as it removes past criminal convictions from consideration.
  • Professional Licensing: Some professions require background checks as part of the licensing process. Sealing your criminal record can improve your chances of obtaining professional licenses, allowing you to pursue careers that may have been previously inaccessible due to past convictions.
  • Education and Financial Aid: Sealing your criminal record can also be beneficial for pursuing higher education and accessing financial aid. Many educational institutions and scholarship programs require background checks, and having a sealed record may make you eligible for opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.
  • Personal Reputation: Sealing your criminal record can help restore your personal reputation and privacy. Without a public record of past convictions, you can move forward with your life without the stigma associated with a criminal record.
  • Legal Rights Restoration: In some cases, sealing your criminal record may also restore certain legal rights that were restricted due to past convictions, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, or legally possess a firearm.
  • Peace of Mind: Finally, having your criminal record sealed can provide peace of mind by allowing you to put your past mistakes behind you and move forward with a fresh start, free from the burden of past convictions.
Work with Experienced Expungement Attorneys

Work with Experienced Expungement Attorneys

At Monument Legal, we have the expertise to navigate the complexities of expungement in Washington, DC. An experienced expungement attorney can help you understand your options and navigate the legal system effectively. Contact Monument Legal today for a consultation and personalized legal assistance tailored to your case.

Why choose Monument Legal?

We have extensive experience handling expungements and will be by your side every step of the way, keeping you informed, answering your questions, and addressing your concerns. Our one goal in every case is to get our clients the best possible outcome. We care about your case, and we care about you.

Monument Legal consistently provides excellent results for their clients, including:

  • Diversion agreements
  • No jail time
  • Not guilty verdicts