The following are frequently asked questions on the record sealing process in DC including how long it takes and the long term advantages of having your record sealed. To learn more schedule a free consultation with a DC Expungement lawyer today.
The answer depends on what kind of motion the person is looking to file. For a person who was not convicted of a crime, so that’s a person who was arrested and either charges were not filed, the case is later dismissed, or the trial ended in a not guilty verdict, there is no waiting period. A person is always eligible to file an actual innocence motion on a case that ended without conviction.
For the interest of justice motion, there are very specific waiting periods that are tied to particular crimes. Generally speaking, there’s a two-year waiting period for a case that ended without conviction and it’s for a lower level misdemeanor. For example, a basic simple assault charge or a basic possession of marijuana charge has a two-year waiting period if the person’s case ended without a conviction.
There’s also a four-year waiting period for certain more serious misdemeanors and felonies that ended without a conviction. Perhaps the most common four year offense that I see is DUI. Non-convictions after being arrested for an intrafamily or domestic violence offense also have a four year waiting period.
Additionally, an eight-year waiting period exists for certain misdemeanor convictions. So, the same low-level misdemeanors that had a two-year waiting period for a non-conviction have an eight-year waiting period for a conviction. A conviction for the four year misdemeanors is not eligible to seal at any time and a conviction for any felony except failure to appear is not eligible for an interest of justice motion at any time.
The other circumstance would be if the DC Council amends the statute that created the waiting periods. This has happened since the passage of the original record sealing act and typically results in shorter waiting periods. For example, the original waiting period to seal an eligible conviction was ten years but that has since been shortened to eight years.
There are a host of advantages to having a sealed record. For some people, it’s just peace of mind. They can move on and not have to worry that a friend or a colleague will notice that they have criminal record. Criminal records are publicly available on court websites all over the country. You can Google somebody’s name and find out if they’ve been arrested or convicted, so just clearing one’s name alone is a huge advantage.
Other than that, the main advantage is letting somebody move on with their life as if they never been arrested. Everybody makes mistakes and the idea of these record sealing motions is to forgive people for those mistakes and let them be positive contributing members of society. That’s what the record sealing case is really about and that’s what having one of those motions granted is about. It’s allowing somebody to function in society just the way that anybody else would whether they’d been arrested or not.
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