The D.C. record clearing law was completely revised effective March 2023, replacing one of the most restrictive and confusing schemes with a reasonably clear and generous one. Sealing by petition is available for all non-convictions records, and for misdemeanor convictions and all but the most serious felonies, after waiting periods of five and eight years after completion of sentence. Effective in 2025, automatic sealing is available for non-conviction records and certain less serious misdemeanors after a 10-year waiting period. Expungement is available by petition in actual innocence cases and for victims of human trafficking, and automatic expungement is available for decriminalized conduct (marijuana). Applicable waiting periods for all arrests and convictions need no longer be satisfied before sealing, and a person need no longer waive the right to seal records not yet eligible as under the earlier law. Waiting periods are no longer extended by “disqualifying” arrests or convictions. The court must determine whether sealing is “in the interests of justice,” weighing certain required and discretionary factors.
At any time, a person may seek expungement on grounds of actual innocence, decriminalized conduct, or, for all but specified violent and sexual offenses, conduct resulting from having been a victim of trafficking. If a record of arrest or conviction is sealed, its subject may deny it in most situations, except that access is authorized for certain law enforcement, court, employment, and licensing purposes. Juvenile records may be sealed after two years once the person is 18, if there have been no subsequent convictions.