So you were arrested in the District of Columbia for a misdemeanor offense and given a citation to appear in Court. On your court date, your attorney told you that the government declined to prosecute. While you do not have a conviction you do have an arrest record. While it’s not the end of the world to have an arrest record, you may not want to tell the world that you were arrested. There are 2 ways to seal your arrest record.
I. Actual Innocence
If the police arrested and you were actually innocent, you can file a motion with the Court to seal the arrest on actual innocence. You have to swear out of an affidavit saying you did not commit the offense. This motion can be filed immediately. You do not have to wait any period of time to file this motion. The Court may hold a hearing to make a determination.
II. Interest of Justice
If the police arrested you and you committed the crime, but the prosecutor declined to prosecute you can not seal the motion under actual innocence. You will have to wait 2 years (4 years for some cases) before you can file this type of motion. The burden of proof is on the government to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it is NOT in the interest of justice to grant the relief requested.
An experienced criminal attorney in the District of Columbia can guide you through the process. An attorney should be able to tell you over the phone whether you qualify to have the case sealed. The process can take anywhere from 90 to 120 days to complete.