Can I expunge a criminal record for simple assault?

Jamison KoehlerAssault, Criminal Procedure

A criminal record for simple assault in D.C. can be sealed either immediately on the grounds of actual innocence or after two years in the interests of justice.  A conviction for simple assault can be sealed after eight years.

Expunging/sealing an arrest for simple assault

There are two different ways to expunge/seal an arrest for simple assault. 

The first way is to file a motion on the grounds of actual innocence under D.C. Code § 16-802.  This type of motion can be immediately. It also has the effect of restoring the person to the position he/she occupied before the arrest. In other words, in the eyes of the law, it is as if the arrest never happened. But the petitioner is also required to prove – by a preponderance of the evidence if the motion is filed within four years of the date the case was dismissed or by clear and convincing evidence if filed beyond that time period – that no offense ever occurred.  

The second way is to wait at least two years after the case is dismissed and to file a motion based on the interests of justice.  With the burden on the government to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is not in the interests of justice to grant the motion, the court will look at a number of factors in deciding whether or not to grant the motion.  One factor is the impact of the criminal record on the person seeking relief.  Another is the community’s interest in the maintenance of the record. The effect of an order under this section is to allow the person to deny the arrest in most circumstances.  There are, however exceptions.  For example, person is still required to disclose the arrest in connection with jury service or employment with a number of different entities.  

Expunging/sealing a simple assault conviction

In the case of a conviction for simple assault, a person needs to wait at least 8 years from the date on which any sentence, including probation, is completed before filing a petition to seal under D.C. Code § 16-803(c).  Any open charges or a recent conviction would render the person ineligible.  The burden is on the person filing the petition to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the interests of justice to grant the motion.  The effect of the granting of this motion is to remove the conviction from all publicly available records.  The person is also able to deny in most circumstances that the conviction never occurred.