What Does Sealing Your Record Mean in DC?

If you have been charged or convicted of a crime in DC, you may be wondering if it is possible to erase it from your permanent record. In Washington, DC, this may be possible under specific circumstances by filing a motion to seal your record. Some information on the process and what it means is provided below, but if you want to know if you can have your record sealed, contact a DC record sealing lawyer today.

What Does It Mean To Seal Your Record in DC?

It can mean two different things depending on how the individual’s record is sealed. If it is sealed after an actual innocence motion in which the person proves that they are factually innocent of the crime for which they were arrested, but not convicted, then all computerized records of the arrest are deleted and paper files are destroyed or sealed away from the public.

That means that if there’s electronic files, they’re deleted, If there’s paper files, they’re shredded or sealed. The Court Clerk keeps a sealed, indexed file that does not contain the person’s name. The person whose case is sealed can still access it in the future in case he or she needs it.

The other type of record sealing motion is called an interest of justice motion. If that type of motion is granted, then the records become non-public rather than being deleted. So, people like police, prosecutors, and courts would still have access to it, but a member of the public such as a private employer no longer would.

Why Do People Want To Have Their Record Sealed?

Many people want to seal their records because they’ve been unable to obtain employment or a promotion as a result of their arrest or conviction. Many of those people are in positions that they’ve held for quite a long time and perhaps they’ve been told they’re going to lose their job because they were arrested.

But really the reasons are going to vary from person to person. Many people are interested in going back to school or attending college for the first time and if they have something like a drug conviction on their record, they may not be eligible for federal financial aid to go to school. At the end of the day, the reasons are myriad. Anybody could be looking to seal their records for any reason.

What Is The Difference Between Expungement and Sealing Your Record in DC?

Expungement is another term for the same or similar process. Traditionally, expungement refers to the destruction of all records related to a criminal case. Sealing often refers to destroying some or none of the records but blocking certain categories of people from accessing what remains. For example, records of a case after a successful interest of justice motion are sealed from public access but not from law enforcement agencies or courts.

What Are Some Long Term Advantages of Having Your Record Sealed in DC?

The long term advantages are the same as never having been arrested before. Both of these motions written into the statutes state that a person whose motion is granted shall be restored in contemplation of the law to the status they held before they were arrested.

Now, that’s fancy lawyer talk for we’re going to pretend you were never arrested or we’re going to pretend you were never convicted and you can just move on with your life just like anybody else, Mr. Defendant. The relief is different in the interest of justice motion in that the courts, police, and prosecutors will still have access to it as will certain state licensing board, but really, but motions are about putting a person in the position they were before he was arrested.

For the most part, the person gets to say “I’ve never been arrested before” if one of these motions are granted and that’s a huge boon to a lot of people.

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