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What Is A Criminal Record In Washington DC?

A criminal record, also known as a rap sheet, is an official document that records a person’s criminal history. The information is assembled and updated from trial courts, courts of appeals as well as correctional facilities. While the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, a large percentage of criminal records in Washington D.C. are stored in public online record depositories.

The information in a criminal record varies with the subject. Still, a typical criminal record will contain the following information:

  • The subject’s name and other personal information
  • Contact information (physical address and county of residence)
  • Descriptors such as height, weight, race, body tattoos, and piercings
  • Offense information
  • Disposition for every offense
  • Judgment for the listed offenses
  • Incarceration details
  • Conviction status
  • Post-conviction status

Are Criminal Records Public In Washington DC?

Yes. Criminal records in Washington DC are generally open to the public unless pursuant to a court order or statutory restriction. The public availability of this type of police record in the state is per the Washington DC Freedom of Information Act. Accordingly, the Metropolitan Police Department makes criminal history information available to public requesters via mail and in-person requests.

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How To Obtain Criminal Records In Washington DC

The Metropolitan Police Department outlines the procedure for accessing criminal records in the District of Columbia. Generally, requesters who wish to access criminal records in Washington DC must write a notarized letter requesting a criminal background check on the subject of interest. Next, the requester must attach a government-issued photo ID and payment for the request. Then, the requester must enclose the request in a self-addressed stamped envelope. Requesters living in Washington DC may drop off the letter in person while out-of-state requesters may send the request via US mail. Either way, the request for criminal records go to this address:

Metropolitan Police Department
Criminal History Section
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 1075
Washington, DC 20001

Generally, it takes six weeks to process this request. However, requesters who need criminal history information on persons of interest have other alternatives. Free public criminal records are not usually available from the Metropolitan Police Department. However, the record custodian may waive the nominal fees if releasing the criminal records serve the public’s interests. Otherwise, a requester may perform a free criminal record check on private databases that aggregate criminal information. These private databases also provide access to other police records, e.g., arrest records. However, the completeness of information from such free websites is not guaranteed. Many of the free criminal records from such private websites are grossly inaccurate.

What Are Arrest Records In Washington DC?

An arrest record is an official document providing information about a person being questioned, apprehended, taken into custody, or placed in detention. You may also be held for investigation and/or charged with, indicted, or tried for any felony, misdemeanor, or other offense by any law enforcement or military authority. In the District of Columbia, a person is arrested once there are reasonable grounds to believe they committed a crime. Arrest records are one of the several components of police records in Washington DC. Police records also include incident reports and logs that track police activity on a particular case.

Are Arrest Records Public In Washington DC?

Yes. Arrest records, and related police records, are public information in Washington DC unless sealed by court order or restricted by statute. Interested persons must visit the arresting agency in person and request the public arrest record on the person of interest. Generally, the record custodian will require the requester to pay a small fee for the arrest search that covers the costs of copying the documents. Free arrest records are not usually available—the record custodian may waive the nominal fees if releasing the arrest records serve public interests.

What Are Arrest Warrants In Washington DC?

An arrest warrant is an official document that is issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state jurisdictions, which authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warrant or to search and seize the individual’s property. In the District of Columbia, the police can arrest a person for committing a crime without an arrest warrant, 23–581. Arrests without a warrant by law enforcement officers. This might happen only in the cases when a person commits the crime in an officer’s presence. The District of Columbia publishes a publicly available list of active warrants in the District. Concerned residents of a community may conduct an active warrant search with the name, issue number, and year of the arrest warrant.

What Are Jail And Inmate Records In Washington DC?

Jail and inmate records are official documents of information about a person’s current and sometimes past inmate status. These records often include the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected release date, convicted offense, and sometimes photos. Interested persons may conduct an inmate search by calling the Washington Department of Corrections Records Office on (202) 523-7060.  

What Is the Sex Offender Registry in Washington DC

The Washington DC sex offender registry is a public database of persons convicted of sex crimes in the District of Columbia. In most cases, jurisdictions compile their laws into sections, such as traffic, assault, and sexual. Judges are given discretion as to whether sex offenders must register for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law.

The District of Columbia created the publicly available sex offender registry following the enactment of Megan's Law. This law requires states and municipalities to provide information on registered sex offenders to the residents of that jurisdiction. The first Megan's Law appeared after the rape and murder of 7-year-old New Jersey resident Megan Kanka by a sex offender who lived in the girl's own neighborhood.

The District of Columbia requires any person convicted or found guilty of committing a sexually violent offense to register within three days. Also, the law sets the time for sex registration, a 10-year registration after conviction and release into the community for nonviolent and crimes against a minor victim. Lifetime registration apply to persons convicted of sexually violent offenses or for habitual sex offenders.

DWIs And DUIs In Washington DC

DWI and DUI are drunk driving traffic offenses in the District of Columbia. However, the legal descriptions of these offenses are different, based on the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). On one hand, DWI refers to driving and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or substances that impair a driver’s physical or mental coordination.

Indictment for drunk driving follows a field sobriety test to determine the impairment level of a driver’s perception and coordination skills. Officers may also administer a chemical test on the suspected driver’s breath, blood, or urine sample. If a driver has a BAC of 0.08 or higher, they shall lose driving privileges and face DWI charges. Meanwhile, DUI is the less serious drunk driving offense and refers to driving or operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.07 or lower.

The reading result is generally admissible in court and used in determining penalties for the drunk driving offense. Pending a court hearing, however, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shall suspend the driver’s license.  Generally, the penalties for DUI and DWI in the District of Columbia include license suspension, jail time, and court fines. The court may also order the driver to install an ignition interlock device and complete a substance treatment program—at personal expense. Furthermore, the conviction for alcohol-related drunk driving stays on the driver’s record for life.

What Are Misdemeanors In Washington DC?

A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense and is generally less severe than felonies. However, like felonies, a misdemeanor charge is categorized into classes. This system describes the alleged crime's severity. In the District of Columbia, misdemeanors are specified as Class A, B, C, or D; or they are unclassified. Penalties can vary from 30 days for Class D misdemeanors to one year for a Class A misdemeanor.

What Are Felonies In Washington DC?

Felony offenses in the District of Columbia refer to criminal convictions with a maximum sentence of more than one (1) year. Inmates serve this conviction in a county jail or state prison. In some cases, a felony conviction can even be punished by death. Felonies are capital felonies, or Class A, B, C, or D felonies; or they are unclassified, 18 U.S. Code § 3559 - Sentencing classification of offenses.

If a felony is specified, the sentence will be specified in the criminal statute. Different sentencing laws apply for crimes committed in D.C. before July 1, 1981, but these days unclassified felonies are judged according to the seriousness of the crime and its cost.

What Is Parole Information in Washington DC?

Parole records are an official document that includes information about the release of a prisoner who agreed to certain conditions before completion of their maximum sentence. While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board shall need the parole to pay a monthly supervision fee of not less than $30. This is If the board agrees to accept a lower fee after determining the inability of the prisoner to pay. The board may also impose any conditions of parole it deems right. The board ensures the interests of the prisoner and citizens of Washington DC are served.

What Are Probation Records In Washington DC?

Probation records are official documents that show when a person receives probation as an alternative to prison. Probation allows people convicted of a crime in the District of Columbia to serve their sentences out of custody, as long as they follow probation conditions imposed by the judge and probation officer. Generally, the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case. Probation typically falls into three categories: minimally supervised, supervised, and intensive – intensive is a form of very strict probation that has conditions that vary from state to state but that emphasize punishment and control of the offender within the community.

What Are Juvenile Criminal Records In Washington DC?

A juvenile criminal record is an official record of information about criminal activity committed by children or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not convicted of a crime like an adult but instead are found “adjudicated delinquent.” These criminal records are often mistakenly erased or expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, but in fact, the record remains unless the person petitions to have it expunged. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.

What Are Conviction Records In Washington DC?

A conviction record is an official document providing information that a person was found guilty, pleaded guilty, or pleaded no contest against criminal charges in a civilian or military court. These criminal charges may be classified as a felony, misdemeanor, or other offense. Conviction includes a person judged as a delinquent or has been less than honorably discharged or placed on probation, fined, imprisoned, or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment by a pardon, set aside, reversed, or otherwise rendered inoperative.

District Of Columbia History And Accuracy Of Criminal Records

The accuracy of the data of criminal records depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. District of Columbia criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s. Criminal and arrest data started to centralize and be compiled into an organized database much like we use today. Accuracy was more commonly affected by human error in the past. In the 1990s, the quality and accuracy of record-keeping improved exponentially due to computers, so the information provided on StateRecords.org will vary from person to person.

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Criminal Record

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