Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 8. Criminal Record Sealing.


§ 16–801. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Clerk” means the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(2) “Completion of the sentence” means the person has been unconditionally discharged from incarceration, commitment, probation, parole, or supervised release, whichever is latest.

(3) “Conviction” means the judgment (sentence) on a verdict or a finding of guilty, a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, or a plea or verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

(4) “Court” or “Superior Court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(5) “Disqualifying arrest or conviction” means:

(A) A conviction in any jurisdiction after the arrest or conviction for which the motion to seal has been filed;

(B) A pending criminal case in any jurisdiction;

(C) A conviction in the District of Columbia for an ineligible felony or ineligible misdemeanor or a conviction in any jurisdiction for an offense that involved conduct that would constitute an ineligible felony or ineligible misdemeanor if committed in the District of Columbia or prosecuted under the District of Columbia Official Code, or conduct that is substantially similar to that of an ineligible felony or ineligible misdemeanor.

(6) “Eligible felony” means a failure to appear (§ 23-1327);

(7) “Eligible misdemeanor” means any misdemeanor that is not an ineligible misdemeanor.

(8) “Ineligible felony” means any felony other than a failure to appear (§ 16-1327) [§ 23-1327].

(9) “Ineligible misdemeanor” means:

(A) Interpersonal violence as defined in § 16-1001(6)(B), intimate partner violence as defined in § 16-1001(7), and intrafamily violence as defined in § 16-1001(9).

(B) Driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, and operating while impaired (§ 50-2201.05);

(C) A misdemeanor offense for which sex offender registration is required pursuant to Chapter 40 of Title 22, whether or not the registration period has expired;

(D) Criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult (§ 22-936(a));

(E) Interfering with access to a medical facility (§ 22-1314.02);

(F) Possession of a pistol by a convicted felon (§ 22-4503(a)(2) [see now § 22-4503(a)(1)]);

(G) Failure to report child abuse (§ 4-1321.07);

(H) Refusal or neglect of guardian to provide for child under 14 years of age (§ 22-1102);

(I) Disorderly conduct (peeping tom) (§ 22-1321);

(J) Misdemeanor sexual abuse (§ 22-3006);

(K) Violating the Sex Offender Registration Act (§ 22-4015);

(L) Violating child labor laws (§§ 32-201 through 32-224);

(M) Election/Petition fraud (§ 1-1001.08);

(N) Public assistance fraud (§§ 4-218.01 through 4-218.05);

(O) Trademark counterfeiting (§ 22-902(b)(1));

(P) Attempted trademark counterfeiting (§§ 22-1803, 22-902);

(Q) Fraud in the second degree (§ 22-3222(b)(2));

(R) Attempted fraud (§§ 22-1803, 22-3222);

(S) Credit card fraud (§ 22-3223(d)(2));

(T) Attempted credit card fraud (§ 22-1803, 22-223) [§§ 22-1803, 22-3223];

(U) Misdemeanor insurance fraud (§ 22-3225.03a);

(V) Attempted insurance fraud (§§ 22-1803, 22-3225.02, 22-3225.03);

(W) Telephone fraud (§§ 22-3226.06, 22-3226.10(3));

(X) Attempted telephone fraud (§§ 22-1803, 22-3226.06, 22-3226.10);

(Y) Identity theft, second degree (§§ 22-3227.02, 22-3227.03(b));

(Z) Attempted identify theft (§§ 22-1803, 22-3227.02, 22-3227.03);

(AA) Fraudulent statements or failure to make statements to employee (§ 47-4104);

(BB) Fraudulent withholding information or failure to supply information to employer (§ 47-4105);

(CC) Fraud and false statements (§ 47-4106);

(DD) False statement/dealer certificate (§ 50-1501.04(a)(3));

(EE) False information/registration (§ 50-1501.04(a)(3));

(FF) No school bus driver’s license (18 DCMR § 1305.1);

(GG) False statement on Department of Motor Vehicles document (18 DCMR § 1104.1);

(HH) No permit — 2nd or greater offense (§ 50-1401.01(d));

(II) Altered title (18 DCMR § 1104.3);

(JJ) Altered registration (18 DCMR § 1104.4);

(KK) No commercial driver’s license (§ 50-405);

(LL) A violation of building and housing code regulations;

(MM) A violation of the Public Utility Commission regulations; and

(NN) Attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses (§§ 22-1803, 22-1805a).

(10) “Minor offense” means a traffic offense, disorderly conduct, or an offense that is punishable by a fine only, excluding any ineligible misdemeanor.

(11) “Public” means any person, agency, organization, or entity other than:

(A) Any court;

(B) Any federal, state, or local prosecutor;

(C) Any law enforcement agency;

(D) Any licensing agency with respect to an offense that may disqualify a person from obtaining that license;

(E) Any licensed school, day care center, before or after school facility or other educational or child protection agency or facility;

(F) Any government employer or nominating or tenure commission with respect to:

(i) Employment of a judicial or quasi-judicial officer; or

(ii) Employment at a senior-level, executive-grade government position.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-368, § 4(e), 56 DCR 1338; Dec. 10, 2009, D.C. Law 18-88, § 401, 56 DCR 7413; June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 4(a), 60 DCR 2333.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-803, § 16-803.01, and § 16-806.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-368, in par. (9)(A), substituted “§ 16-1001(8)” for “§ 16-1001(5)”.

D.C. Law 18-88, in par. (9)(Z), substituted “Attempted identify theft” for “Attempted theft”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-319 rewrote (9)(A).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 401 of Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-181, August 6, 2009, 56 DCR 6903).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 401 of Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-227, October 21, 2009, 56 DCR 8668).


§ 16–802. Sealing of criminal records on grounds of actual innocence.

(a) A person arrested for or charged with the commission of a criminal offense pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations whose prosecution has been terminated without conviction may file a motion with the Clerk at any time to seal all of the records of the arrest and related court proceedings on grounds of actual innocence.

(b) The burden is on the movant to establish that:

(1) The offense for which the person was arrested or charged did not occur; or

(2) The movant did not commit the offense.

(c) If the motion is filed within 4 years after the prosecution has been terminated, the movant must satisfy the burden described in subsection (b) of this section by a preponderance of the evidence.

(d) If the motion is filed more than 4 years after the prosecution has been terminated, the movant must satisfy the burden described in subsection (b) of this section by clear and convincing evidence.

(e) In determining such motions, the court may, but is not required to, employ a rebuttable presumption that the movant is not entitled to relief if the court finds that the government has been substantially prejudiced in its ability to respond to the motion by the delay in its filing, unless the movant shows that the motion is based on grounds which the person could not have raised by the exercise of reasonable diligence before the circumstances prejudicial to the government occurred.

(f) An acquittal does not establish a presumption that the movant is innocent or entitled to relief pursuant to this section.

(g) A person whose conviction has been vacated pursuant to § 22-4135(g)(2), and whose subsequent prosecution is terminated without conviction, may file a motion with the Clerk pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or any other provision of law.

(h) A person who is found to be actually innocent pursuant to this section or § 22-4135(g)(3) shall be entitled to the following relief with respect to such count or counts:

(1)(A) The Court shall summarize in the order the factual circumstances of the challenged arrest and any post-arrest occurrences it deems relevant, and, if the facts support such a conclusion, shall rule as a matter of law that the movant did not commit the offense for which the movant was arrested or that no offense had been committed.

(B) A copy of the order shall be provided to the movant or his or her counsel.

(C) The movant may obtain a copy of the order at any time from the Clerk of the Court, upon proper identification, without a showing of need.

(2)(A) In a case involving co-defendants in which the Court orders the movant’s records sealed, the Court may order that only those records, or portions thereof, relating solely to the movant be sealed.

(B) The Court shall order that the movant’s name be redacted to the extent practicable from records that are not sealed. The Court may make an in camera inspection of these records in order to make this determination.

(C) The Court need not order the redaction of references to the movant that appear in a transcript of court proceedings involving the co-defendants.

(D) After references to the movant have been redacted as provided for in this paragraph, the Court shall order those records relating to co-defendants returned to the prosecutor or the Clerk.

(3) The Court shall not order the redaction of the movant’s name from any published opinion of the trial or appellate courts that refer to the movant.

(4) The Court shall:

(A) Order the prosecutor, any relevant law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency to seal any records that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted;

(B) Order the prosecutor to arrange for any computerized record of the movant’s arrest, prosecution, or conviction to be eliminated except for a restricted-access file that would permit the prosecutor and law enforcement agencies to retrieve sealed records if ordered to do so by the Court; and

(C) 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.

(5) The Court shall order the prosecutor, any relevant law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency to file a certification with the Court within 90 days of an order to seal the records that, to the best of its knowledge and belief, all references that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted have been sealed.

(6) The Court shall:

(A) Order the Clerk to collect all Court records pertaining to the movant’s arrest, record, or conviction and cause to be purged any computerized record;

(B) Expressly allow the Clerk to maintain a record so long as the record is not retrievable by the identification of the movant; and

(C) Order the Clerk to file under seal all Court records retrieved pursuant to this section, together with the certifications filed by the prosecutor, any relevant law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency pursuant to this subsection, within 7 days after receipt of such records.

(7) The Clerk shall place the records ordered sealed by the Court in a special file, appropriately and securely indexed in order to protect its confidentiality. Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the Clerk shall reply in response to inquiries concerning the existence of records which have been sealed pursuant to this chapter that no records are available.

(i) The effect of relief pursuant to this section shall be to restore the movant, in the contemplation of the law, to the status he or she occupied before being arrested or charged. 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, or charge, or trial in response to any inquiry made of him or her for any purpose.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-806.


§ 16–803. Sealing of public criminal records in other cases.

(a)(1) A person arrested for, or charged with, the commission of an eligible misdemeanor pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations whose prosecution has been terminated without conviction may file a motion to seal the publicly available records of the arrest and related court proceedings if:

(A) A waiting period of at least 2 years has elapsed since the termination of the case; and

(B) Except as permitted by paragraph (2) of this subsection, the movant does not have a disqualifying arrest or conviction.

(2)(A) If a period of at least 5 years has elapsed since the completion of the movant’s sentence for a disqualifying misdemeanor conviction in the District of Columbia or for a conviction in any jurisdiction for an offense that involved conduct that would constitute a disqualifying misdemeanor conviction if committed in the District, the conviction shall not disqualify the movant from filing a motion to seal an arrest and related court proceedings under this subsection for a case that was terminated without conviction before or after the disqualifying misdemeanor conviction, except when the case terminated without a conviction as a result of the successful completion of a deferred sentencing agreement.

(B) If a period of at least 10 years has elapsed since the completion of the movant’s sentence for a disqualifying felony conviction in the District of Columbia or for a conviction in any jurisdiction for an offense that involved conduct that would constitute a disqualifying felony conviction if committed in the District, the conviction shall not disqualify the movant from filing a motion to seal an arrest and related court proceedings under this subsection for a case that was terminated without conviction before or after the disqualifying felony conviction, except when the case terminated without conviction as the result of the successful completion of a deferred sentencing agreement.

(b)(1) A person arrested for, or charged with, the commission of any other offense pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations whose prosecution has been terminated without conviction may file a motion to seal the publicly available records of the arrest and court proceedings if:

(A) A waiting period of at least 4 years has elapsed since the termination of the case or, if the case was terminated before charging by the prosecution, a waiting period of at least 3 years has elapsed since the termination of the case; and

(B) Except as permitted by paragraph (2) of this subsection, the movant does not have a disqualifying arrest or conviction.

(2)(A) If a period of at least 5 years has elapsed since the completion of the movant’s sentence for a disqualifying misdemeanor conviction in the District of Columbia or for a conviction in any jurisdiction for an offense that involved conduct that would constitute a disqualifying misdemeanor conviction if committed in the District, the conviction shall not disqualify the movant from filing a motion to seal an arrest and related court proceedings under this subsection for a case that was terminated without conviction before or after the disqualifying misdemeanor conviction, except when the case terminated without a conviction as a result of the successful completion of a deferred sentencing agreement.

(B) If a period of at least 10 years has elapsed since the completion of the movant’s sentence for a disqualifying felony conviction in the District of Columbia or for a conviction in any jurisdiction for an offense that involved conduct that would constitute a disqualifying felony conviction if committed in the District, the conviction shall not disqualify the movant from filing a motion to seal an arrest and related court proceedings under this subsection for a case that was terminated without conviction before or after the disqualifying felony conviction, except when the case terminated without conviction as the result of the successful completion of a deferred sentencing agreement.

(c) A person who has been convicted of an eligible misdemeanor or an eligible felony pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations may file a motion to seal the publicly available records of the arrest, related court proceedings, and conviction if:

(1) A waiting period of at least 8 years has elapsed since the completion of the movant's sentence; and

(2) The movant does not have a disqualifying arrest or conviction.

(c-1) Repealed.

(c-2) A person to whom a District of Columbia arrest has been attributed, who attests under oath that he or she was incorrectly identified or named, may file a motion to seal publicly available records of the arrest if the law enforcement agency did not take fingerprints at the time of the arrest and no other form of reliable identification was presented by the person who was arrested.

(d) The waiting periods in subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this section, before which a motion to seal cannot be filed, must be satisfied with respect to all of the movant’s arrests and convictions unless the movant waives in writing the right to seek sealing of an arrest or conviction as to which the prescribed waiting period has not elapsed.

(e) The waiting periods in subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this section may be waived by the prosecutor in writing.

(f) In a motion filed under subsections (a), (b), or (c) of this section, the movant must seek to seal all eligible arrests and convictions in the same proceeding unless the movant waives in writing the right to seek sealing with respect to a particular conviction or arrest.

(g) In determining whether a movant is eligible to file a motion to seal because of a conviction, arrest, or pending charge, minor offenses shall not be considered.

(h)(1) The Superior Court shall grant a motion to seal if it is in the interests of justice to do so. In making this determination, the Court shall weigh:

(A) The interests of the movant in sealing the publicly available records of his or her arrest, related court proceedings, or conviction;

(B) The community’s interest in retaining access to those records, including the interest of current or prospective employers in making fully informed hiring or job assignment decisions and the interest in promoting public safety; and

(C) The community’s interest in furthering the movant’s rehabilitation and enhancing the movant’s employability.

(2) In making this determination, the Court may consider:

(A) The nature and circumstances of the offense at issue;

(B) The movant’s role in the offense or alleged offense and, in cases terminated without conviction, the weight of the evidence against the person;

(C) The history and characteristics of the movant, including the movant’s:

(i) Character;

(ii) Physical and mental condition;

(iii) Employment history;

(iv) Prior and subsequent conduct;

(v) History relating to drug or alcohol abuse or dependence and treatment opportunities;

(vi) Criminal history; and

(vii) Efforts at rehabilitation;

(D) The number of the arrests or convictions that are the subject of the motion;

(E) The time that has elapsed since the arrests or convictions that are the subject of the motion;

(F) Whether the movant has previously obtained sealing or comparable relief under this section or any other provision of law other than by reason of actual innocence; and

(G) Any statement made by the victim of the offense.

(i)(1) In a motion filed under subsection (a) or (c-2) of this section, the burden shall be on the prosecutor to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is not in the interests of justice to grant relief.

(2) In a motion filed under subsection (b) of this section, the burden shall be on the movant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the interests of justice to grant relief.

(3) In a motion filed under subsection (c) of this section, the burden shall be on the movant to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the interests of justice to grant relief.

(j) A motion to seal made pursuant to this section may be dismissed without prejudice to permit the movant to renew the motion after further passage of time. The Court may set a waiting period before a renewed motion can be filed.

(k) A motion to seal made pursuant to this section may be dismissed if it appears that the movant has unreasonably delayed filing the motion and that the government has been prejudiced in its ability to respond to the motion by the delay in its filing, unless the movant shows that the motion is based on grounds which the person could not have raised by the exercise of reasonable diligence before the circumstances prejudicial to the government occurred.

(l) If the Court grants the motion to seal:

(1)(A) The Court shall order the prosecutor, any law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency to remove from their publicly available records all references that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted.

(B) 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.

(C) The prosecutor, any law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency office shall file a certification with the Court within 90 days that, to the best of its knowledge and belief, all references that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted have been removed from its publicly available records.

(2)(A) The Court shall order the Clerk to remove or eliminate all publicly available Court records that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted.

(B) 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.

(3)(A) In a case involving co-defendants in which the Court orders the movant’s records sealed, the Court may order that only those records, or portions thereof, relating solely to the movant be redacted.

(B) The Court need not order the redaction of references to the movant that appear in a transcript of court proceedings involving co-defendants.

(4) The Court shall not order the redaction of the movant’s name from any published opinion of the trial or appellate courts that refer to the movant.

(5) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the Clerk and any other agency shall reply in response to inquiries from the public concerning the existence of records which have been sealed pursuant to this chapter that no records are available.

(m) 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 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 in § 16-801(11).


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868; Oct. 22, 2012, D.C. Law 19-183, § 3, 59 DCR 9429; June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 4(b), 60 DCR 2333; Dec. 13, 2013, D.C. Law 20-50, § 4(a), 60 DCR 15151; Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-186, § 2(a), 61 DCR 12108.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-804 and § 16-806.

Effect of Amendments

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-183 added (c-1).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-319 rewrote (a) and (b); substituted “a waiting period of at least 8 years” for “a waiting period of at least 10 years” in (c)(1); added (c-2); and added “In a motion filed under subsections (a), (b), or (c) of this section” in (f).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-50 substituted “subsection (a), (c-1), or (c-2) of this section” for “subsection (a) of this section” in (i)(1).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-186 repealed (c-1); and substituted “(a) or (c-2)” for “(a), (c-1), or (c-2)” in (i)(1).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Criminal Record Sealing Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-99, July 1, 2013, 60 DCR 10009, 20 DCSTAT 1805).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Criminal Record Sealing Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-168, September 30, 2013, 60 DCR 14734).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see §§ 2(a) and 3 of the Criminal Record Sealing Temporary Act of 2013 (D.C. Law 20-38, Nov. 5, 2013, 60 DCR 12149).


§ 16–803.01. Sealing of arrest records of fugitives from justice.

(a) A person arrested upon a warrant issued pursuant to § 23-701 or arrested within the District of Columbia as a fugitive from justice without a warrant having been issued may file a motion to seal the record of the District of Columbia arrest and related Superior Court proceedings at any time after the person has appeared before the proper official in the jurisdiction from which he or she was a fugitive.

(b)(1) The Superior Court shall grant a motion to seal if:

(A) The arrest was not made in connection with or did not result in Regulations charges or federal charges in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the person;

(B) The person waived an extradition hearing pursuant to § 23-702(f)(1) and was released pursuant to § 23-702(f)(2) or detained pursuant to § 23-702(f)(3); and

(C) The person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has appeared before the proper official in the jurisdiction from which he or she was a fugitive.

(2)(A) In all other cases under this section, the Superior Court may grant a motion to seal if it is in the interest of justice to do so. In making this determination, the court shall consider:

(i) The interests of the movant in sealing the publicly available records of his or her arrest and related court proceedings;

(ii) The community’s interest in retaining access to those records;

(iii) The community’s interest in furthering the movant’s rehabilitation and enhancing the movant’s employability; and

(iv) Any other information it considers relevant.

(B) The burden shall be on the movant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the interest of justice to grant relief.

(c) If the Court grants the motion to seal:

(1)(A) The Court shall order the prosecutor and any law enforcement agency to remove from their publicly available records all references that identify the movant as having been arrested.

(B) The prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies shall be entitled to retain any and all records relating to the movant’s arrest in a nonpublic file.

(C) The prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies shall file a certification with the Court within 90 days that, to the best of its knowledge and belief, all references that identify the movant as having been arrested have been removed from its publicly available records.

(2)(A) The Court shall order the clerk to remove or eliminate all publicly available court records that identify the movant as having been arrested.

(B) 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.

(3) The Court shall not order the redaction of the movant’s name from any published opinion of the trial or appellate courts that refer to the movant.

(4) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the clerk and any other agency shall reply in response to inquiries from the public concerning the existence of records which have been sealed pursuant to this chapter that no records are available.

(5) No person as to whom relief pursuant to this section 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 as a fugitive from justice in response to any inquiry made of him or her for any purpose.

(6) For purposes of this section, the entities listed in § 16-801(11)(D)-(F) shall be considered public.


(June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 4(c), 60 DCR 2333; Dec. 13, 2013, D.C. Law 20-50, § 4(b), 60 DCR 15151.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-806.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-50 rewrote (b)(2).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Criminal Record Sealing Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-99, July 1, 2013, 60 DCR 10009, 20 DCSTAT 1805).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Criminal Record Sealing Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-168, September 30, 2013, 60 DCR 14734).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see §§ 2(b) and 3 of the Criminal Record Sealing Temporary Act of 2013 (D.C. Law 20-38, Nov. 5, 2013, 60 DCR 12149).


§ 16–803.02. Sealing of public records for decriminalized or legalized offenses.

(a) A person arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations that was decriminalized or legalized after the date of the arrest, charge, or conviction may file a motion to seal the record of the arrest, charge, conviction, and related Superior Court proceedings at any time.

(1)(A) The Superior Court shall grant a motion to seal if:

(i) The arrest was not made in connection with or did not result in any other District of Columbia Official Code or District of Columbia Municipal Regulations charges or convictions against the person; and

(ii) The arrest was not made in connection with or did not result in any other federal charges or convictions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the person.

(B) In a motion filed under subparagraph (A) of this section, the burden shall be on the prosecutor to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the record is not eligible for sealing pursuant to this section because the conduct was not decriminalized or legalized.

(2)(A) In cases that do not meet the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Superior Court may grant a motion to seal if it is in the interest of justice to do so. In making this determination, the Court shall weigh:

(i) The interests of the movant in sealing the publicly available records of his or her arrest, charge, conviction, and related Superior Court proceedings;

(ii) The community’s interest in retaining access to those records;

(iii) The community’s interest in furthering the movant’s rehabilitation and enhancing the movant’s employability; and

(iv) Any other information it considers relevant.

(B) In a motion filed under this paragraph, the burden shall be on the movant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the interest of justice to grant relief.

(b) If the Court grants a motion to seal under this section:

(1)(A) The Court shall order the prosecutor, any law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency to remove from their publicly available records all references that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted.

(B) 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.

(C) The prosecutor, any law enforcement agency, and any pretrial, corrections, or community supervision agency shall file a certification with the Court within 90 days after the Court issues an order under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph that, to the best of its knowledge and belief, all references that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted have been removed from its publicly available records.

(2)(A) The Court shall order the clerk to remove or eliminate all publicly available court records that identify the movant as having been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted.

(B) The Clerk shall be entitled to retain any records relating to the movant’s arrest, prosecution, conviction, or related Superior Court proceedings in a nonpublic file.

(3)(A) In a case involving co-defendants in which the Court orders the movant’s records sealed, the Court may order that only those records, or portions thereof, relating solely to the movant be redacted.

(B) The Court need not order the redaction of references to the movant that appear in a transcript of court proceedings involving co-defendants.

(4) The Court shall not order the redaction of the movant’s name from any published opinion of the trial or appellate courts that refer to the movant.

(5) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the clerk and any other agency shall reply in response to inquiries from the public concerning the existence of records which have been sealed pursuant to this section that no records are available.

(6) No person as to whom relief pursuant to this section 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 for any purpose.

(7) For purposes of this section, the entities listed in § 16-801(11)(D)-(F) shall be considered public.


(Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-186, § 2(b), 61 DCR 12108.)


§ 16–804. Motion to seal.

(a) A motion to seal filed with the Court pursuant to this chapter shall state grounds upon which eligibility for sealing is based and facts in support of the person’s claim. It shall be accompanied by a statement of points and authorities in support of the motion, and any appropriate exhibits, affidavits, and supporting documents.

(b)(1) A motion pursuant to § 16-803(a), (b), or (c) shall state all of the movant’s arrests and convictions and shall:

(A) Seek relief with respect to all the arrests and any conviction eligible for relief; and

(B) For any arrest or conviction as to which the waiting period in § 16-803(a), (b), or (c) has not elapsed, waive in writing the right to seek sealing of the records pertaining to that arrest or conviction.

(2) If the Court determines that the motion does not comply with the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection, then the movant shall have 30 days after being notified by the Court of the noncompliance to amend his or her original motion to include all of the movant’s District of Columbia Code and Municipal Regulation arrests and convictions and either seek relief with respect to all the eligible arrests and convictions or waive in writing the right to seek sealing of the records pertaining to any arrests or convictions for which relief is not sought. If the movant fails to amend his original motion within 30 days, then the motion shall be dismissed without prejudice.

(c) A copy of the motion and any amended motion shall be served upon the prosecutor.

(d) The prosecutor shall not be required to respond to the motion unless ordered to do so by the Court pursuant to § 16-805(b).

(e) If the movant files a motion to seal an arrest that is not in the Court database or an arrest and related court proceedings that are not in a publicly available database, the motion to seal and responsive pleadings shall not be available publicly. If the Court grants such a motion, it shall order that the motion and responsive pleadings be sealed to the same extent and in the same manner as the records pertaining to the arrest and related court proceedings. If the Court denies such a motion, the Court, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, and the law enforcement agency that arrested the movant shall be entitled to retain any and all records relating to the motion in a non-public file.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868; June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 4(d), 60 DCR 2333.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-319 rewrote (b) and (c); and added (e).


§ 16–805. Review by Court.

(a) If it plainly appears from the face of the motion, any accompanying exhibits, affidavits, and documents, and the record of any prior proceedings in the case, that the movant is not eligible for relief or is not entitled to relief, the Court may dismiss or deny the motion.

(b) If the motion is not dismissed or denied after initial review, the Court shall order the prosecutor to file a response to the motion. The prosecutor shall file the response within 60 days of the issuance of the order except where the arrest was not presented to the prosecutor for a charging decision, in which case the prosecutor shall file the response within 90 days of the issuance of the order.

(c) Upon the filing of the prosecutor’s response, the Court shall determine whether a hearing is required.

(d) If the Court determines that a hearing is required, the hearing shall be scheduled within 30 days of the prosecutor’s response. If the Court determines that a hearing is not required, the Court shall dismiss, grant, or deny the motion within 30 days of the prosecutor’s response.

(e) At the hearing, the movant and the prosecutor may present witnesses and information by proffer or otherwise. Hearsay evidence shall be admissible.

(f) An order dismissing, granting, or denying the motion shall be in writing and include reasons.

(g) The Court shall not be required to entertain a second or successive motion for similar relief on behalf of the same movant regarding the same offenses, arrests, or convictions unless the previous motion was dismissed or denied without prejudice.

(h) An order dismissing, granting, or denying a motion for sealing is a final order for purposes of appeal.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868; Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-186, § 2(c), 61 DCR 12108.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-804.

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-186 rewrote (d).


§ 16–806. Availability of sealed records.

(a) Records sealed on grounds of actual innocence pursuant to § 16-802 shall be opened only on order of the Court upon a showing of compelling need; except, that upon request, the movant, or the authorized representative of the movant, shall be entitled to a copy of the sealed records to the extent that such records would have been available to the movant before relief under § 16-802 was granted and shall also be entitled to all certifications filed with the Court pursuant to § 16-802(h)(5). A request for access to sealed court records may be made ex parte.

(b) Records retained in a nonpublic file pursuant to § 16-803, § 16-803.01, or § 16-803.02 shall be available:

(1) To any court, prosecutor, or law enforcement agency for any lawful purpose, including:

(A) The investigation or prosecution of any offense;

(B) The determination of whether a person is eligible to have an arrest or conviction sealed or expunged;

(C) The determination of conditions of release for a subsequent arrest;

(D) The determination of whether a person has committed a second or subsequent offense for charging or sentencing purposes;

(E) Determining an appropriate sentence if the person is subsequently convicted of another crime; and

(F) Employment decisions.

(2) For use in civil litigation relating to the arrest or conviction;

(3) Upon order of the Court for good cause shown;

(4) Except for records sealed under §§ 16-803.01 and 16-803.02, to any person or entity identified in § 16-801(11)(D), (E), or (F), but only to the extent that such records would have been available to such persons or entities before relief under § 16-803 was granted. Such records may be used for any lawful purpose, including:

(A) The determination of whether a person is eligible to be licensed in a particular trade or profession; and

(B) Employment decisions; and

(5) To the movant or the authorized representative of the movant, upon request, but only to the extent that such records would have been available to the movant before relief under § 16-803, § 16-803.01, or § 16-803.02 was granted. The movant, or the authorized representative of the movant, shall also be entitled to all certifications filed with the Court pursuant to § 16-803(l)(1)(C).

(c) Any person, upon making inquiry of the Court concerning the existence of records of arrest, court proceedings, or convictions involving an individual, shall be entitled to rely, for any purpose under the law, upon the clerk’s response that no records are available under § 16-802(h)(7), § 16-803(l)(5), or § 16-803.02(b)(5) with respect to any issue about that person’s knowledge of the individual’s record.

(d) Except to the extent permitted by this section, all sealed records shall remain sealed.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868; June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 4(e), 60 DCR 2333; Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-186, § 2(d), 61 DCR 12108.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-319 rewrote (a); substituted “§§ 16-803 or 16-803.01” for “§ 16-803” in the introductory language of (b); added “Except for records sealed under § 16-803.01” at the beginning of (b)(4); rewrote ((b)(5); added (d); and made related changes.

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-186 substituted “§ 16-803, § 16-803.01, or § 16-803.02” for “§§ 16-803 or 16-1803.01” in the introductory language in (b); substituted “§§ 16-803.01 and 16-803.02” for “§ 6-803.01” in (b)(4); substituted “§ 16-803, § 16-803.01, or § 16-803.02” for “§ 16-803 or 16- 803.01” in (b)(5); and substituted “§ 16-802(h)(7), § 16-803(l)5), or § 16-803.02(b)(5)” for “§ 16-802(h)(7) or § 16-803(l)(5)” in (c).


§ 16–807. Savings provision.

This chapter does not supersede any other provision of the District of Columbia Official Code providing for the expungement, sealing, or setting aside of criminal arrests or convictions.


(May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 2(b), 54 DCR 868.)