D.C. Council Approves Sealing Court Records for Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses

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October 21, 2016
Denver, CO

According to the Washington Post, residents of the nation’s capital who have been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses could apply to have those criminal records sealed under a bill granted initial approval by the D.C. City Council yesterday.

David Grosso

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the record-sealing bill. He believes it is a matter of fairness to give prior offenders some ability to rid their records of nonviolent offenses now that marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the District and both voters and City Council are considering making marijuana legal for adults.

“People who have had these issues in the past, it never leaves them,” Grosso said. “They have to check the box [indicating a prior conviction]. They can’t get a job. They can’t get public housing. They can’t get financial aid for college.”

Under the terms of the bill, D.C. residents could file a motion to seal their records in the D.C. Superior Court. The motion should be granted unless prosecutors demonstrate that the offense in question remains a crime. If the motion is granted, prosecutors and courts would have to remove public records related to the resident’s arrest, charge, trial, or conviction.

The measure passed 12 to 0 and is up for a second vote set for later this month. According to Grosso and data compiled by the Drug Policy Alliance, it is among the broadest efforts to allow marijuana records to be sealed within the country.

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