Unique Aspects of the DC Expungement Process

The main difference between the expungement process in DC and the process for a criminal offense is that the expungement process is largely driven by the client and the client’s DC expungement attorney. For a record to be expunged an attorney must gather all evidence, draft the motion, and file it. Therefore, all the timing is controlled by the individual which is unlike a criminal case where the timing is largely determined by the judge and the government.

In some ways, the process is similar to an administrative case in that the person’s liberty is not on the line if this motion is denied. It’s not like the person could end up in jail unless for example they lied and were caught lying in their affidavits in the sworn statement. However, much like an administrative case, in a record sealing case, the person never has their liberty on the line, they are not going to end up in jail at the end of the process.

Role of the Government in an Expungement Case

The government, who is represented by a prosecutor in these cases, has a variety of roles. The first thing they do is double-check the judge’s review of the motion to see if all DC offenses are included in the motion because that is required by the statute. Sometimes if somebody has used different names for example, but their fingerprints match up in two different cases, the government would give the attorney a phone call and say, looks like this hypothetical client had used a different name when he was arrested once and you need to include this offense in the motion or the judge isn’t going to be able to rule on it.

At the same time, the main role of the government is to decide whether or not the – or the main role of the prosecutor is to decide whether or not the government is going to support or oppose the potential client’s motion to seal. You know in cases where they decide to support the motion, they are typically granted. Most judges here feel like if the prosecutor doesn’t think this person’s record should be a burden any longer, then they have no business disagreeing with that.

But sometimes the prosecutors decide to oppose the motion in which case they’re kind of the adversary in the case.