Everything You Need to Know About DC Criminal Records


Your DC criminal records can haunt you for life, but proper action can help you move forward to a better and brighter future. Whether you are simply looking to gain access to your records or you need help with expungement, this guide covers everything you need to know to get started.

How to Obtain DC Criminal Records


Criminal records in DC are usually made available to the public, so almost anyone can have access to these records. Whether you want to gain access to court records on your resolved criminal cases or other matters, you should have access to most records.

It is always a good idea to obtain a copy of your criminal record. This set of documents is often required in connection with background checks for licensing, employment, adoption, and overseas travel, among other things. Accessing your record before making a career change or applying for housing can help you prepare for any unexpected roadblocks.


Accessing DC Public Criminal Records

The following are some of the ways to obtain your criminal records for proceedings in Washington, DC.

Picking Up the Report in Person

You can typically obtain a copy of criminal records in person by visiting the Metropolitan Police Department at 300 Indiana Avenue NW. The report can usually be picked up Monday to Friday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

To be granted public access to court records, the Clerk’s Office will usually have you fill out a criminal history request referred to as a PD Form 70. You will have to provide your name, race, Social Security number, date of birth, gender, and place of birth.

You may also be requested to present a valid government-issued identification, which may include a driver’s license or other ID, such as birth and death certificates.

You should also note that procedures are subject to change at any time. Still, you will typically be able to obtain information on cases filed and court proceedings on criminal and civil cases alike.

Once you submit your application, you may have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles in the same building and pay $7, depending on the type of case your records involve. You will then be issued a receipt that you will take to Room 1075, where you can then pick up your report.


Requesting the Report by Mail

If you live outside of Washington, DC, or cannot collect the report by mail, you can request the Metropolitan Police Department to send a copy of your criminal record by mail. To use this option, you will have to write a letter requesting information from the Metropolitan Police Department.

The letter that you send will usually have to include information such as:

  • Full name
  • Social Security number
  • Race
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Street address

The letter will also need to be notarized and include a stamped self-addressed envelope with a money order of $7 payable to the District of Columbia treasurer.

Note that the Clerk’s Office at the courthouse provides public access to criminal docket reports from 1938 to 1991 in microfilm. The exception is any cases pending in 1991 or any reopened afterward. Any reopened or pending docket entries may be accessed on the public terminals in the Clerk’s Office or on the PACER website.

Criminal law can be a complex matter, and hence you need to work with competent and experienced attorneys for favorable outcomes. At Scrofano Law, we have a team of lawyers with years of experience working in criminal law in the DC area.

Whether you are looking for a DC hit-and-run lawyer, a DUI lawyer, or just need advice on your criminal records, we may be able to help out.

Expungement of Washington DC Criminal Records


In the District of Columbia, criminal cases, civil cases, tax cases, and any other major litigation or docket entries can be sealed. This means that docket entries and court records may be expunged or erased under the situations described below.

If court records are expunged or erased, public access to information on such cases or proceedings is usually restricted. As such, a person living in the District of Columbia will not have to disclose any arrest, trial, charge, or conviction.


A Closer Look at Expungement and Sealing

The path to expunging or sealing criminal records in DC is fraught with complexities. A critical first step involves understanding eligibility, which hinges on the nature of the offense and the outcome of the case.

Eligibility extends to certain misdemeanors and felonies, with the waiting period before filing for expungement varying. Misdemeanors may require a two to five-year wait, while felonies often demand a longer, ten-year patience.

However, the landscape changes with convictions. Eligible individuals, those who’ve served their sentences and remained conviction-free for specified periods, can petition for sealing, albeit with restrictions.

The process itself is meticulous, requiring detailed petitions and, occasionally, court hearings. Legal representation becomes not just beneficial but essential, guiding petitioners through the procedural maze.

In cases where offenses have been decriminalized or legalized the path to expungement becomes more straightforward. However, in certain cases such as drug offenses, the only matter that the court will expunge are first drug possession offenses.


Sealing or Expungement if You Were Not Convicted

If you were not convicted in the District of Columbia courts or any other superior court such as the court of appeals, you could usually file a petition to have your record sealed. Still, you will have to show that you were innocent of the crime you were charged with in court or arrested for.

Suppose you were arrested for or were arrested and charged with an eligible misdemeanor in a District of Columbia court but were not convicted of the offense. In that case, you can petition to have your criminal record expunged.

An important thing to note is that you will typically have to wait for two years after the conclusion of the proceedings in your case before you become eligible to petition the District of Columbia courts.

If you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor that disqualifies you, the waiting period is typically extended to five years. This can also be extended to ten years if it is determined that you were convicted of a felony other than failure to appear.

Some disqualifying misdemeanors under the District of Columbia code include sex offenses and driving under the influence. Since many offenses may disqualify one, it is always prudent to speak with experienced District of Columbia attorneys if you intend to have your case records expunged.


Sealing or Expungement if You were Convicted

In cases where you were found guilty of an eligible felony or misdemeanor, you can still petition the District of Columbia courts to seal your criminal records if:

  • It has been more than eight years since you completed your sentence, and
  • You do not have a disqualifying conviction or arrest.

Note that failure to appear is typically the only eligible felony, even though it is always essential to consult criminal law attorneys to learn whether your conviction court records qualify for expungement in the District of Columbia courts or a superior court.


Sealing or Expungement of Records for Legalized or Decriminalized Offenses

Suppose you were arrested, charged, or convicted with a crime that has subsequently been legalized or decriminalized. In that case, you may request your case records in the District of Columbia courts or any other court of appeals and superior court be expunged.

Once you have your official criminal records, you can usually file an interest of justice motion with the court that will then decide if the record needs to be expunged.

At Scrofano Law, we understand that cleaning up your criminal record can be complex. In this regard, we always advise that you work with qualified criminal defense attorneys when looking to get your cases filed or your record in the District of Columbia courts expunged.

If you are looking for a Virginia criminal lawyer, Scrofano Law, PC has the experienced and skilled attorneys you need. Our lawyers may help with anything from legal representation in court to expungement of criminal records.

DC Criminal Records Search


The Freedom of Information Act of the District of Columbia asserts that any citizen has the right to request any public report or document without having to prove any explanation.

However, there are exceptions to the right to access public information as some sensitive documentation, such as law enforcement reports, is not open to all members of the public. As such, a search of the criminal background of a person may be a complicated task.


Washington DC Criminal Records Check

All criminal records in the District of Columbia are managed by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Arrest and Criminal History Section.

You can usually access the records by visiting the Clerk’s Office in person or sending a request for the records to be sent to you through the mail. If the subject of a report has any criminal offenses or arrests on their record, the process will usually take longer.

Criminal Background Checks

There is no law on how far back a criminal background search can go. However, depending on the method used to search for the record, some services may only show cases and proceedings from the past seven years.

The ban box law in Washington, DC, prohibits employers from seeing your arrest record before tabling a formal offer of employment. Technically, employers can table an offer and then look at your record before deciding whether to proceed or rescind the offer.


Jail Records

You can typically search for the jail records of a person through the court that heard the proceedings in Washington, DC. The District of Columbia has a website open to the public, where people can find all the information about a case, including their crimes.


Police Records

Anyone can ask for a Certificate of Clear Police Record or Police Clearance by visiting the Arrest and Criminal History in person or through the mail. Most requests will take about twenty-four hours to be completed.


Inmate Records

Inmate records in Washington, DC, are open to the public and, as such, can be requested by anyone. This provision helps to protect inmates from illegal activities that the Department of Corrections may perpetrate. It also helps concerned persons and relatives be up-to-date on the status and whereabouts of an inmate.


The Sex Offender Registry

The Metropolitan Police Department manages and maintains the sex offender registry in the District of Columbia. The department has an online search engine that allows anyone to search for cases, reports, and any other information on proceedings.

The reports open to the public usually include data such as the subject’s name, offense committed, date of birth, whether the offender is currently wanted or not, physical description, date of registration, home address, and date of conviction.

If you need to access criminal records, you should contact the law offices of Scrofano Law, PC. We have worked with many clients over the years to obtain access to and understanding of criminal records, and as such, we have the experience to get you the documentation you need quickly and efficiently. Contact us today, and we may be able to help you with your criminal records.

Can You Access DC Arrest Records?


Arrest records are deemed public information, and anyone can access these records in the District of Columbia. 

However, arrest records tend to be harder to access than other records as they are more easily expunged than other legal proceedings such as convictions.


How to Access DC Criminal Records Online


The court system in the District of Columbia provides a unique way of conducting criminal background checks as compared to other jurisdictions. You can usually search for cases brought to court using a case search engine on their website. 

You can usually find anything from court case transcripts, the decisions of the court, and offenses committed. However, the reports will usually not include personal, relevant information such as addresses, physical descriptions, and pictures. 

The information available at the website through the case search engine usually involves docket entries in criminal, civil, criminal domestic violence, probate cases for small estates and large estates, tax cases, foreign estate proceedings, disclaimers of interest, will, and other major litigation.

There are several District of Columbia Courts from which you can get the records, including:


The Court of Appeals

This District of Columbia court has an e-filing system that allows self-represented litigants and attorneys to view case dockets and make electronic filings and submissions. 


The Superior Court

The court provides an online case search portal to access information on all civil and criminal matters.

Given that criminal records can be complicated, we always advise that you work with a criminal lawyer to combat them. The lawyers at Scrofano Law understand the legal procedures and laws regarding criminal records and are prepared to serve as your trusted legal advocates as you navigate the nuances of post-conviction life. 

Contact us today, and we may be able to help you by using our experience to obtain case records or get an expungement of your records so that you can live a normal life. 

Frequently Asked Questions About DC Criminal Records


Can Anyone Access My Criminal Record in DC?

Yes, in most cases. DC criminal records are public, meaning that with few exceptions, anyone can request access. This includes employers, educational institutions, and housing authorities. However, certain sensitive details may be restricted to protect privacy.

What Steps Are Involved in Obtaining My Criminal Record?

Obtaining your criminal record typically involves submitting a request to the Metropolitan Police Department or accessing court records through the DC Courts website. You may need to provide personal identification and, in some cases, a fee.

How Can I Correct Errors on My Criminal Record?

If you discover inaccuracies in your criminal record, you should contact the agency that issued the record. This might be the police department or the court. You’ll likely need to provide evidence to support your claim of errors.

Is It Possible to Have My Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged?

Yes, under certain conditions. Non-conviction records, some misdemeanors, and eligible felonies can be sealed or expunged. The process requires filing a petition with the court, and in some cases, a waiting period or proof of rehabilitation.

How Long Does the Expungement Process Take?

The duration varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s backlog. It can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. Engaging a lawyer experienced in DC criminal law can help navigate the process more efficiently.

Will Expungement Completely Erase My Criminal Record?

Expungement can remove the record from public view, meaning it won’t appear in most background checks. However, under certain circumstances, such as applying for a government job, the record may still be accessed.

Can I Access Criminal Records Online?

Yes, the DC Courts offer an online case search feature for public records. This allows you to search for criminal, civil, and other case types by party name or case number.


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