D.C. criminal defense lawyer

Will I have a criminal record after being arrested for prostitution in D.C.?

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure

Everyone who has been arrested for a criminal offense in Washington, D.C. has some type of criminal record.  This would include being arrested for prostitution/sexual solicitation. 

In some cases, the record may be nothing more than an entry in the FBI database, accessible only to other governmental entities with permission to use the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).  In other cases, the record may be publicly available – accessible to anyone looking for it — through D.C. Superior Court’s website.  The type of record a person has, along with how visible it is and what the person must do to have it removed, will depend on how far into the criminal process the person made it.  For example, was the person also booked, charged and/or convicted of an offense? 

A person is arrested when he or she is taken into formal custody by law enforcement officers.  An arrest is a more intrusive imposition on a person’s liberty than a “detention,” which can be a more temporary restraint on a person’s movement.  For example, a person who is stopped on the street or pulled over in a car (and in some cases even handcuffed) is simply being detained.  It is not until police make the formal decision to take the person into custody that the person is considered to be under arrest.

After arrest, the next step in the process is to “book” the individual.  To “book” a person on criminal charges is to record that person’s name on a “sequential list of police arrests,” including a notation on the “particulars about the alleged offense” and the name and badge number of the arresting officer.  It is at this stage that the person is also fingerprinted and photographed.  In D.C., the person is booked at the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) district substation corresponding to the part of the city in which the person was arrested, before the suspect is transported to the Central Cellblock at 300 Indiana Avenue, NW. 

A person has not been formally charged with a criminal offense until the prosecuting office in D.C. – either the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Office of the Attorney General – decides to issue an information or complaint or, in felony cases, to secure an indictment. The issuance of an information or complaint is known in D.C. as the “papering” of case. 

Finally, a person has not been convicted of an offense in D.C. until the court has come to a finding of guilt and entered the judgment into the record. 

What type of criminal record a person has as the result of an arrest for prostitution/sexual solicitation will depend on whether or not the person was arrested, charged or convicted of the offense.  A person who was arrested for the offense but whose case was “no-papered” (that is, dismissed before charging) will only appear in the FBI database.  All other cases will also appear on the D.C. Superior Court’s public website along with a notation on final disposition. 

For information on sealing or expunging your criminal record, please click here.