Dealing With a DC DUI Arrest Record
When someone is acquitted at trial on a DUI charge, that person still has an DC arrest record that is available to the public. However, being acquitted allows them to go through the process of sealing their arrest record based either on their innocence or based on the interest of justice.
Being acquitted at trial does not necessarily count as proof of the person’s innocence. An acquittal means the person was found not guilty of their charges by a judge or jury. However, proving that you are innocent of the charge requires additional evidence that should be discussed with a DC DUI lawyer.
Ways to Have a Record Sealed
A person who is arrested for driving under the influence in DC has the ability under DC law to have that arrest record sealed from public view in very specific circumstances. In the event a person was arrested, but not convicted of a crime, they can have their arrest records sealed in one of two ways.
The first way is by proving they did not commit the crime for which they were arrested. If they can prove their innocence in a written motion filed with the DC court, the judge could seal that person’s DUI arrest record based on a finding of actual innocence.
The other way is when someone is arrested and not convicted but may not be able to prove their innocence for various reasons. This individual may then wait a required number or years before making a request for their record to be sealed based on the interet of justice. That means the person and their DC DUI lawyer makes the argument to the court that there is no judicial interest in maintaining a publicly available arrest record based on an otherwise clean criminal history. The person may include possible future career prospects and any other information about their life or their circumstances that they believe is of use to the court. However, in some circumstances, depending on the charge for which a person was convicted, the individual may not be eligible to have their records sealed at all.
Record Sealing Process
In order to have a DUI arrest record sealed in Washington, DC, a person must file a motion to seal with the DC Superior Court. That motion must include facts relevant to the person’s case and any law that might apply to their situation.
The law is different depending on the nature of the record sealing. If the person asks to seal their records based on their actual innocence, they must include certain laws to justify their request. If the person is asking to have their records sealed based on the interest of justice, the person must include different evidence supporting their argument.
Once the person files the motion to seal their record, the judge gives the DC government an opportunity to respond, either opposing the person’s request to seal or conceding to that request. The government’s opposition could also include any relevant laws and facts that apply to the case. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to decide how and whether to seal the case based on the motions received from the person making the request and the government’s response.
Difference Between Record Sealing and Expungement
Record sealing is the legal term used in Washington DC law. It is commonly referred to as expunging a record, however in Washington DC, the word “expungement” does not appear anywhere in the law. The equivalent of that is sealing the records of an arrest.
When a person is able to demonstrate that there is no judicial interest in maintaining a certain arrest record, the court may grant that person’s request to seal the records. That means that the public is no longer able to access those records and the court would not acknowledge that those records exist.
When the person is able to get the records sealed because they were factually innocent of the crime for which they are arrested, the record sealing at that point places them in the same position they were in the day before their arrest.
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