DC Interest of Justice Record Sealing

If you are seeking to have your record expunged or sealed in DC, you may have learned that there are two primary arguments you can make to seal your record: actual innocence and interest of justice.

Below, a DC record sealing lawyer answers questions about an interest of justice record sealing motion and the balancing test courts use.

“Interest of Justice” Record Sealing Cases

An “interest of justice” record sealing case is a type of motion to seal that is filed on behalf of a client. It is based on a balancing test. The court asks, do the positive deeds and accomplishments of this client since the time they were arrested outweigh whatever their conduct was that caused them to be arrested?

For example, a person might be arrested for a very serious crime, such as a robbery, but due to a plea deal they end up being convicted of a misdemeanor, such as simple assault.

The court is basically asking, has this person’s good deeds made up for the underlying conduct. The fact that the person was only convicted of a misdemeanor can be irrelevant in these cases. It affects eligibility, but the actual decision is based on is it in the interest of justice, does the court thinks it’s fair for this person to leave this record behind and move on as if they were never arrested before. That’s the basics of an interest of justice case.

Arguments An Attorney Can Make

There are two to three main kinds of evidence. The first kind is just general positive evidence on behalf of the client such as whether the client maintained a job continuously since they were arrested or released from prison.

Has the client settled down and started a family and shown that they’re really a part of the community, has the client been involved in community service or volunteer work of a church or other religious organization, things like that. Evidence of the person’s good moral character.

On the flipside of that, but related is evidence of how a person’s record is unfairly preventing them from getting on with their life. So you might have a person who’s done a lot of great things and has really shown that their moral character has improved from the time they were arrested or convicted, but they’re still suffering collateral consequences.

We want to show the judge, look, not only is this person doing all these great things, he’s doing them despite the fact this record has stopped him from getting a better job or a high-paying job or a better apartment or something like that.

And then, the third type of evidence that is not used as often, but sometimes it comes up with these cases, would be statements or letters of support. For example, if a person has a pretty lengthy criminal history, but you know they’ve grown out of that conduct and they’ve decided that they’re going to get involved with a program that helps at-risk youth, a letter from the person who runs that program might be helpful for the judge to really get a picture of how much this person is dedicated to turning their life around and trying to put this behind them this arrest or conviction.