Sealing a Record in the District of Columbia
So your lawyer tells you that for whatever the reason the case was no papered or dismissed for want of prosecution. There are variety reasons (to long for this blog) why a case may not be papered or dismissed by the government(prosecutor) . When that happens the question arises well I don’t have a conviction so should I file a motion with the Court to seal the arrest record?
Case “No Papered” – No Public Record
If the case was no papered which means the government decided not to charge the case, there will be no public record online. The general public can not access the record on the court’s website at DC Superior Court’s Website to access the record.
Case was Charged but later dismissed – A Public Record
If the case was charged but later dismissed for want of prosecution or dismissed through diversion there is a public record online. The public can access the records online on DC Superior Court’s Court Website.
So why Seal
Under either option the question arises should you file a motion with the Court to seal the record? The simple answer is yes and the rational for filing the motion to seal is because the law allows you to answer future questions of whether you have ever arrested as “No” if the motion to seal is granted without committing perjury. Specifically, the law states
“No person as to whom such relief has been granted shall be held thereafter under any provision of law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of failure to recite or acknowledge his or her arrest, charge, trial, or conviction in response to any inquiry made of him or her….”
The only exception is when you are asked to disclose the record with respect to jury service or to agency (law enforcement) defined in the code.
“for any purpose except that the sealing of records under this provision does not relieve a person of the obligation to disclose the sealed arrest or conviction in response to any direct question asked in connection with jury service or in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for a position with any person, agency, organization, or entity defined…”
Conclusion – Seal that Record
Without the granting of motion to seal you would be required to state that you have been arrested even though there is no public record on the court’s website. So on the job application where it is ask whether you have been arrested you would have answer “Yes.” If the motion to seal is granted you could answer “No” on the job application without misrepresenting yourself or committing perjury. Need more information – give us a call.
Rollins and Chan Law Firm