Length of the DC Expungement Process

The only circumstance in which the expungement process can be sped up is if the government agrees in writing to waive the statutory waiting period to apply to file the record sealing motion.

Usually, the best way for that to happen is in a case that ends in some sort of plea deal or what’s called the diversion agreement which is where somebody does some community service and maybe has some other conditions that they have to complete and then their case is dismissed in exchange for completing that community service. It would be in the defendant’s best interest for the attorney who represents the defendant to negotiate a reduced waiting period with the government as part of the plea agreement.

That could always knock down a waiting period sometimes significantly. You know if the case is going to end in some sort of conviction, a lawyer might be able to drop the waiting period from eight years to four years or two years depending on the conduct and if the client cooperated with the government in other cases. There are a variety of factors can affect that negotiation.

Beyond that, the only other way to secure a written reduction in waiting period would be for the attorney to contact the government prosecutors and ask if they would be willing to waive some of the waiting period. In this instance, the lawyer must have arguments ready about why the client is so exceptional that they do not deserve to have to wait. In a similar vein, sometimes the government will waive the waiting period with the expectation that the individual will do some additional community service.

Expunging Misdemeanor Offenses

There are only certain misdemeanors that may be expunged or sealed. Certain misdemeanors are not eligible to be sealed after a conviction. And those misdemeanors are written out in the statute, there’s a list of about fifty misdemeanors that are not eligible to be sealed after conviction.

Any misdemeanor that’s not on that list is eligible to be sealed after a conviction provided the client’s additional criminal history, if any, doesn’t preclude them from sealing. If that’s their only offense, generally they would be eligible to seal.

Felony Convictions

Felony convictions are not expungeable under interest of justice or actual innocence statutes with one exception. The exception being a Bail Reform Act violation which is commonly known as failure to appear.

In those cases, and those Bail Reform Act violations can also be misdemeanors, however, if the defendant fails to come to court in a felony case, then they get a felony Bail Reform Act violation. That’s the only felony conviction if that person was later convicted of failing to appear in court willfully or knowingly, that person would then still be eligible to seal their record on that felony charge.

However, most of those people in reality end up not being eligible to seal the felony conviction there because they are convicted or can be convicted on the underlying offenses which could change their eligibility to seal the Bail Reform Act violation.