Arrest Records in DC DUI Cases
Arrest records are considered to be publicly available records in Washington, DC. If a person wants to obtain records of someone’s arrest including police reports, mug shots, or any other records showing the underlying basis for the person’s arrest, they may make a request to the District of Columbia police to get access to the records. Those records are kept with the DC police departments and sometimes also kept with the DC Courts and the prosecutor’s offices as well. To learn more about who may be able to access your arrest record or whether anything can be done to seal it, call and schedule a consultation with a DC DUI lawyer today.
Consequences of a Public Arrest Record
In some situations, public arrest records may show up in background checks run by potential employers, licensing agencies, or any other groups that might have an interest in knowing about a person’s criminal background.
Even if a person has an arrest that did not result in a conviction, sometimes the arrest record alone can create a situation where the person might be questioned about their criminal history. They may even be in a position where they are denied a job as a result of an arrest record.
Even if these arrest records do not have the consequence of costing a person his or her job or government security clearance, the arrest records can be very embarrassing to explain. The person is put in a position of having their prior history known by employers or co-workers.
Will Your Record Still Be Available If You Are Acquitted?
Even when someone is acquitted at trial for their DUI charge, they still have an arrest record that is available to the public. Once they are acquitted, they can go through the same process for sealing their arrest record as if their charge was simply dismissed. The person can move to seal their record based on their innocence or they can move to seal their record based on the interest of justice.
Being acquitted at trial does not necessarily mean the court will consider a person innocent. It means the person was not found guilty of the charge by a judge or jury. Proving the person is innocent of the charge requires additional evidence that they can discuss with a lawyer. If a person is not able to prove their innocence, they can move forward on a request to seal their arrest records based on the judicial interest.
Publicity of Mug Shots in DC
Mug shots are considered to be part of a publicly available arrest record, which can be accessed by anyone who goes through the proper channels with the DC government to obtain those records.
However, unlike many states, mug shots are not available in Washington, DC cases through common Internet search engines. For example, in many states, police agencies post mug shots on their Facebook page and may post records of a person’s arrest on publicly searchable websites such as a police department website.
In Washington, DC, mug shots and other arrest related records are not easily searchable through websites such as Google. To get access to someone’s mug shot, a person must go through several steps to request those records. Even though the records are available to the public, the DC government does not make them easily accessible.
In some situations, the DC police or prosecutors post mug shots online if there is a compelling reason to do so. In a case where, for example, a person might be wanted for a violent crime and the police needs the public’s assistance in tracking that person down, the police may post a mug shot on a Facebook page or other websites.
When there is a case that is of some genuine public interest such as a high profile person arrested in Washington, DC or an arrest that is of general interest to the community, the police are more likely to make a mug shot more easily available to the public.
Dealing With Your Arrest Record
A person who was arrested has the ability under DC law to have that arrest record sealed from public view in certain circumstances. In the event that a person was arrested, but not convicted of a crime, they can request to have their arrest record sealed in one of two ways.
The first way is by proving they did not commit the crime for which they were arrested. They can prove their innocence in a motion filed with the DC Court that includes any supporting evidence such as photographs or witness statements. If a judge finds, after considering any opposing evidence from the government, that the person was able to prove their innocence, the judge would order that person’s arrest record sealed.
If a person who was arrested but not convicted is unable to prove their innocence, either because they do not have the required evidence or because they were not actually innocent, they can wait the required number of years and then make a request to seal their arrest records based on the interest of justice. That means the person makes the argument to the court that there is no judicial interest in maintaining a publicly available arrest record of a crime for which they were not convicted. The person may include in their request information about possible future career prospects and any other information about their life they would like the court to consider.
The amount of time a person must wait to request this kind of record sealing depends on the type of charge. If the person was arrested and convicted of a crime and wants their records sealed, the waiting period to apply for that is considerably longer.
In some circumstances, depending on the charge for which a person was convicted, they might not be eligible to have the record sealed at all.
If You Are Acquitted Will The DUI Still be On Your Record?
Even when someone is acquitted at trial on their DUI charge, they still have an arrest record that is available to the public. Once they are acquitted, they can go through the same process for sealing their arrest record as if their charge was simply dismissed. The person can move to seal their record based on their innocence or they can move to seal their record based on the interest of justice.
However, being acquitted at trial does not necessarily mean the court will consider a person innocent. It means the person was not found guilty of the charge by a judge or jury. Proving the person is innocent of the charge requires additional evidence that they can discuss with a lawyer. If a person is not able to prove their innocence, they can move forward on a request to seal their arrest records based on the judicial interest.