Rollins and Chan Law firm

Criminal Lawyers since 1997 expunging and sealing criminal records in DC

We file motions to seal your criminal record in the District of Columbia.  We offer a Free consultation to determine eligibility.  During our initial interview we can determine if you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed in the District of Columbia.  

What does it mean to Seal or Expunge your criminal Record in the District of Columbia?

Expungement/sealing a criminal record in the District of Columbia is accomplished by filing a Motion (a written request to the Court)to Seal in DC Superior Court.     In the District of Columbia the Court seals the record.  If the record is sealed you will be given an Order signed by a Judge.   However, sealing the record is for all practical purposes the same as expungement in DC.    

What is the difference between expungement and sealing criminal records in DC?

expungement and sealing your criminal record


In the District of Columbia, there is little difference between expunging the record or sealing the record.      In the District of Columbia, the use of the word expungement only relates to a few misdemeanor charges.

D.C. Code S 48-904.0:1.(e)-first-time drug “offender” (expungement) – The Court can still keep a record of the proceeding.
D.C. Code§ 25-1002(c)(4)-underage consumption/possession of alcohol (expungement) – The Court can still keep a record of the proceeding.
D.C. Code§ 22-1844-human trafficking (vacatur and expungement) – The Court does not have to keep a record of the proceeding.  

Under the expungement statute, the Court can still keep a record of the offense except pursuant to D.C. Code 22-1844.    


In the District of Columbia, there are several ways to seal a criminal record.   In the District of Columbia, the use of the word sealing is related to the following:   

D.C. Code S 16-802-actual innocence (sealing) – Expressly allow the prosecutor and law enforcement agencies to maintain a publicly available record so long as it is not retrievable by the identification of the movant

D.C. Code S 16-803-interests of justice (less complete sealing) – The prosecutor’s office and agencies shall be entitled to retain any and all records relating to the movant’s arrest and conviction in a nonpublic file

D.C. Code§ 16-803(c-2)-mistaken identity (sealing) – The prosecutor’s office and agencies shall be entitled to retain any and all records relating to the movant’s arrest and conviction in a nonpublic file.

D.C. Code S 16-803.01-fugitive matters (sealing) – The clerk shall be entitled to retain any and all records relating to the movant’s arrest, related court proceedings, or conviction in a nonpublic file.

D.C. Code S 16-803.02—decriminalized and legalized offenses (sealing) -The prosecutor’s office, any law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency shall be entitled to retain records relating to the movant’s arrest, prosecution, conviction, or related Superior Court proceedings in a nonpublic file.

The Court may allow law enforcement to keep records that are sealed but only to a limited extent.  

Is there a Difference Between Sealing and Expunging 

Sealing and expungement are basically the same things in the District of Columbia.    It’s just a difference in wording.  The issue is whether the Court and the prosecutor can maintain the records.  That depends on what statute you are seeking to seal or expunge.     The Court wipes all records if you are seeking expungement pursuant to D.C. Code§ 22-1844.   The best sealing option would be sealing under actual innocence pursuant to D.C. Code S 16-802.  Regardless, of whether the matter is sealed or expunged, the question is whether records are accessible.  The public is not permitted to access the records, whether the case is sealed or expunged.    Law enforcement has limited access to the records, whether the matter is sealed or expunged.   

Can Criminal Convictions be sealed in the District of Columbia?

Almost all traffic convictions and most misdemeanor convictions can be sealed in the District of Columbia?  In fact, the misdemeanors that are not sealable are called ineligible misdemeanors.   The record can be sealed as long as the waiting period has been satisfied.    Here is the list of ineligible misdemeanors 

Can Arrest Records be sealed in the District of Columbia?

Yes all arrest records can be sealed as long as the waiting period has been satisfied.  Remember arrest are different from convictions.  

What does it Mean to Have my Criminal Record Sealed?

Another question you may have is If a record is sealed, the government deletes or limits access to it.   A sealed record can generally not be used against you if you are applying for a job, in other background checks or in certain legal proceedings.  Most people charged with misdemeanor offenses will seal their record pursuant to a.     Actual innocence(DC Code § 16-802)- arrest and case records are permanently sealed b. Interest of Justice(DC Code§ 16-803)

What is difference between an Arrest and a Conviction?

There is a huge difference between an arrest and a conviction.  However, there is a public record for an arrest as well as for a conviction.  You should seek to seal an arrest and a conviction.   

  • An arrest means that you were taken into custody and booked(finger printed and identified) by the police. 
  • A Conviction  formal declaration by a Court of Law that someone is guilty of a criminal offense.

How Do I Know If I Have a Criminal Record in the District of Columbia

HExpungement and sealing your criminal recordave you ever been arrested and never charged with a crime? Were you charged but the case against you was dismissed? Were you found not guilty at trial or placed on deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing for a misdemeanor?  Did you have a trial and then found guilty?  Did you plead guilty in Court?  If the answer to any of these questions is, “Yes,” then you currently have a criminal record.

Conviction means that you were found guilty after a trial, or pled guilty or pled nolo contendere (“no contest”) to the charges.   Your Superior Court records will show the disposition of your case.  There are four principal parts of a criminal proceeding: arrest, charge(s), conviction and sentence. Generally, you only receive a sentence (punishment) if you were convicted of a crime. If the proceeding against you did not go beyond arrest or charging, you were not convicted. The Court can, however, require you to meet certain requirements, such as community service, drug treatment and educational programs, without having to convict you. You may have received such “punishment,” but were not convicted under the law.   You were convicted if:  You were found guilty at a trial or you pled guilty. It is also a conviction if you found not guilty by reason of insanity or if you pled nolo contendere (no contest).  You were NOT convicted if:

  1. Arrest Only – the government did not take any further action against you after your arrest
  2. No Papered
  3. Post and Forfeit
  4. Arrest + Charge Only – the government arrested and charged you with a crime
  5. Nolle Prosequi or dismissal – the prosecutor dropped the charges against you
  6. DWP – Dismissal for want of prosecution. (This kind of dismissal almost always happens on the day of trial.)
  7.     Acquitted – you were found not guilty by a judge or jury
  8. You entered a Diversion Agreement.  ie. Deferred Prosecution Agreement, Deferred Sentencing Agreement. Drug Court.
  9. Youth Rehabilitation Act (You were under the age of 25 at the time of the conviction)
Where do I go to find out whether I Have a Criminal Record

In order to get a copy of your complete D.C. criminal record, you should go to the Metropolitan Police Department or  Superior Court.  1.Metropolitan Police Department Records 300 Indiana Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004.  2. DC Superior Court 500 Indiana Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004

Can I seal my Felony Record?

The only felony that can be expunged in the District of Columbia is Felony Bail Reform Act Violation

What Misdemeanors are not Eligible for Sealing?

Ineligible Misdemeanor List

  1. Intra-family offense (generally, !!!!Y crime, including assault, robbery, burglary, etc., where the alleged victim was a family member, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a roommate or shared a child with the person who allegedly committed the )
  2. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence and/or operating while
  3. A misdemeanor offense that required you to register as a sex
  4. Criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult
  5. Interfering with access to a medical facility
  6. Possession of a pistol by a convicted felon
  7. Failure to report child abuse
  8. Refusal or neglect of guardian to provide for child under 14 years of age
  9. Disorderly conduct (peeping tom)
  10. Misdemeanor sexual abuse
  11. Violating the Sex Offender Registration Act
  12. Violating child labor laws
  13. Election/petition fraud
  14. Public assistance fraud
  15. Trademark counterfeiting
  16. Attempted trademark counterfeiting
  17. Fraud in the second degree
  18. Attempted fraud
  19. Credit card fraud
  20. Attempted credit card fraud
  21. Misdemeanor insurance fraud
  22. Attempted insurance fraud
  23. Telephone fraud
  24. Attempted telephone fraud
  25. Identity theft, second degree
  26. Attempted theft
  27. Fraudulent statements or failure to make statements to employee
  28. Fraudulent withholding information or failure to supply information to employer
  29. Fraud and false statements
  30. False statement/dealer certificate
  31. False information/registration
  32. No school bus driver’s license
  33. False statement on DMV document
  34. No permit – 2nd or greater offense
  35. Altered title
  36. Altered registration
  37. No commercial driver’s license
  38. A violation of building and housing code regulations
  39. A violation of the Public Utility Commission regulations
  40. Attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above
What is Process for Sealing my Criminal Record in DC

The process is started by filing a motion to seal in DC Superior Court.    A motion is your request for the Court to do something for you.   After you file the motion the Court will give the Prosecutor time to respond.   Thereafter, the Court will reach a decision of whether to seal your record.  

Do misdemeanors go away in DC?

No misdemeanors do not just go away in DC without you filing a motion with the Court to seal.  There is no automatic right for the case to go away.

Will I have to go to Court for a Hearing on Sealing my Criminal Record?

No, most cases are sealed based on the representations made in the motion.  

How long does it take to seal a Criminal Record in the District of Columbia?

It usually takes about 90 days from the date of filing for the Court to make a decision

How to Go About Starting the Process


Expungement and Sealing Criminal RecordsRollins & Chan offers personalized legal counsel to each and every client. We understand how important it is to clear your criminal record, and we have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the process efficiently. We offer free initial consultations in which we evaluate your case to determine if your record can be expunged or sealed.

Read our Blog on Sealing on Actual Innocence

sealing your Record in the District of Columbia

Should you seal your record in the District of Columbia

See Our Video on Ineligible Misdemeanor offenses for Expungement

See our Video on Getting your Criminal Record

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