When Can You Seal Your Record in DC?

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the waiting periods before you can have your record sealed or expunged in DC. For more information or to find out more specifically about your situation, contact a DC record sealing lawyer today for a free consultation.

How Long After a Criminal Case Can You Seal Your Record in DC?

If a person is not convicted of a crime, they are eligible from the day the case is dismissed to file an actual innocence motion. It’s not always the best idea for strategic reasons, but they would be eligible that day.

For the interest of justice motion, the waiting period is going to vary based on the offense conduct, what the person was actually arrested for, and how that case ended. The waiting periods can vary anywhere from two years to eight years for just a single offense.

What is called an eligible misdemeanor, which is generally a low level misdemeanor, which ends in a non-conviction would have a two-year waiting period. What’s known as ineligible misdemeanor, which is a list of misdemeanors written into the statute that the D.C. council has decided are somewhat more serious than an eligible misdemeanor, but not as serious as a felony, usually has a four-year waiting period. In an ineligible misdemeanor case, a person who is arrested but never charged faces a slightly shorter three year waiting period.

There is an eight-year waiting period for a conviction for an eligible misdemeanor.  Convictions for ineligible misdemeanor or felony, other than a Bail Reform Act violation, are not eligible to be sealed at all.

How Long Does It Take To Seal a Record in DC?

A record sealing case is going to take about six to eight months from the time the motion is filed with the court. Eight months is usually the high end, but some cases can drag on for quite some time, particularly if the government is having trouble locating records from a case. There’s also some legwork that needs to happen before the motion is filed, such as collecting evidence and working with a client to develop a factual record. I then draft the motion and get it filed with the court, but at that point things can take a while.

The government is always entitled to up to three months to respond to these motions. The government often asks for additional time, perhaps thirty to sixty days more — particularly in innocence cases, where the government is looking to talk the case over with the arresting police officers, review witness statements and any other evidence available. That can often cause a bit of a delay in getting an answer on the motion.

Sometimes judges get very busy with their caseload and they just don’t have time to look at these motions immediately. There are many ways there can be delays in the system and certainly one of my roles as an advocate for my clients is to try to speed the process along as much as possible, but many parts of this system leave a lot of discretion in the hands of the government or the judges. We can certainly prod them along, but at the end of the day they get to make their decisions on their own schedule.

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