Everyone Deserves Someone In Their Corner

Community Defender Division

Defending fairness for all by supporting successful reentry.

When our clients’ lives intersect with the criminal and juvenile justice system, they face challenging obstacles. The Community Defender Division (CDD) works to help our clients in the District—both adults and children—face their legal difficulties that stem from prior arrests, convictions, and incarceration.

New programs designed to help make sense of the complex legal systems.

Our newly-structured programs provide comprehensive legal services to clients who are impacted by their criminal or juvenile records.  Our doors are open to anyone who is struggling to make sense of the challenges of D.C.'s complex legal systems.  We encourage individuals to visit our office in order to meet with our staff and learn more about the resources we can provide.

In our Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program, clients may seek representation for a range of issues, including:

  • Criminal records
  • Employment
  • Background Checks
  • Child Support
  • Parole
  • Prisoners' Rights

In our Juvenile Services Program, children may seek assistance regarding issues, including:

  • their rights after they are committed
  • their rights while they are detained
  • their rights while placed out of their homes

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who do we help?

  • Adults
    • Individuals who are incarcerated in at the DC Jail, the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
    • Returning Citizens (recently returning to the District from a period of incarceration)
    • Individuals with Criminal/Arrest Records
    • Individuals seeking information about how to access services despite criminal/arrest records
  • Juveniles
    • Detained Youth (YSC)
    • Committed Youth (community or at home placements, group homes, New Beginnings Youth Development Center, and residential treatment centers)
  • Family Members
    • We are happy to answer questions and provide assistance to family members, especially family members of incarcerated individuals.  Please note that client confidentiality prevents us from sharing information unless the client gives us permission to do so.
  • Criminal/Juvenile Justice Professionals
    • Judges
    • Attorneys
    • Probation Officers
    • Court Supervision Officers
    • Social Workers
    • Case Managers

What services do we provide?

  • Adults

    We provide legal representation for individuals seeking to remove the barriers to successful lives after being involved in the criminal justice system.

    • Reentry Legal Services
    • Record Sealing
    • Parole Matters including Parole Release Hearings and Early Termination of Parole/Supervised Release Hearings
    • Disciplinary Hearings at the DC Jail and the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF)
    • Prisoners’ Rights for individuals incarcerated in the DC Jail, CTF and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
    • Social Service Referrals
  • Juveniles
    • Community Status Review Hearing Representation (when the Department of Youth Rehabilitation wants to move a committed youth to a more secure placement)
    • Disciplinary Hearing Representation (when youths at YSC and New Beginnings are charged with breaking the rules)
    • Conditions of Confinement
    • Post-Commitment Advocacy
    • Social Service Referrals

When is the office open?

  • Adults

    ***WALK INS PREFERRED***

    Community Members are encouraged to come to our office or to schedule an appointment for an in-person consultation.  Incarcerated clients are encouraged to write to CDD so that our staff will have all necessary information and so that we can establish contact via a legal call at the relevant BOP facility.

    • Adult Walk-Ins: Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Adult Callers: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Juveniles

    Juveniles are encouraged to request a legal meeting with our staff at the offices located at the Youth Services Center (YSC) and the New Beginnings Youth Development Center.

    • Juvenile Walk-Ins: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Juvenile Callers: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where are we located?

  • Adults
    Community Defender Division
    1442 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
    2nd Floor
    Washington, DC 20003
    (202) 824-2801
    1 (800) 341-2582
  • Juveniles
    Community Defender Division
    1442 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
    2nd Floor
    Washington, DC 20003
    (202) 824-2801
    1 (800) 341-2582
  • Youth Services Center (YSC)
    1000 Mount Olivet Road, NE
    Washington, DC 20002
    (202) 576-8368
  • New Beginnings Youth Development Center
    8400 River Road
    Laurel, MD 20724
    (202) 299-3223 or 3132

Am I eligible to have my arrest/criminal record sealed?

Have you ever been arrested in the District of Columbia?
If YES, please watch the video.
If NO, we would be happy to refer you to the proper jurisdiction to obtain legal assistance.

How long does it take to get my record sealed?

The time varies depending on the individual case and the Court’s schedule.  After the initial filing of a Motion to Seal, the US Attorney’s Office will be given an opportunity to respond. The Court will consider the movant’s Motion to Seal, the Government’s response, and any additional pleadings before making a decision.

Where do I go to get my “MPD Arrest History Report for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006”?  How much does it cost to get my police clearance? Where do I go to get my Court Record?

You should get copies of your (1)  MPD Arrest History Report for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 AND (2) Court record BEFORE filing.

  1. Police Record 
    1. You will need to bring:
      • A valid ID (such as a Driver’s License)
      • $7.00 cash or money order to pay for the record, AND
      • Your social security number
    2. Go to the:
      Record Information Desk
      Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
      300 Indiana Avenue, NW
      Criminal History Section, Room 1075 (On the 1st  Floor)
      Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    3. Stop at the desk and show valid identification to receive a payment slip.
    4. Take the payment slip to room 1140B on the 1st Floor to pay the $7 charge.  You will receive a receipt that says that you have paid.
    5. Go back to the desk on the 1st Floor and show your paid receipt and ID to receive a MPD Arrest History Report Form for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealng Act of 2006. 
    6. Complete the MPD Arrest History Report Form for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 in all of the spaces marked with a dot, as instructed.
    7. Go to the service window down the hallway.  The clerk will check your identification and take your receipt and MPD Arrest History Report Form for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 form.
    8. Move away from the service window; your name will be called when your MPD Arrest History Report  is ready.  The clerk will give you a copy of your MPD Arrest History Report.  HOLD ONTO THIS FORM. You will need it to determine your eligibility to file a motion to seal your arrest record. Because it may contain information that is not otherwise public, you probably do not want to attach it to your motion to seal, which will be filed in public court records.  If you do attach it to your motion to seal, ask the court to put your motion “under seal.”

    NOTE: The purpose of the MPD Arrest History Report for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 is to determine if you are eligible to file a motion to seal your record.  this report shows all your arrests, non-convictions, and convictions. This document will contain arrests that may not appear in the Court’s criminal information database or in what is commonly referred to as the PD 70 or police clearance.  The PD 70 or a Police Clearance obtained from MPD only shows D.C. arrests from the past ten years and only arrests that resulted in a conviction or a forfeiture (like a post-and-forfeit case).  Simply because you do not see an arrest on the PD 70 does not mean that the record has been sealed.  (See Frequently Asked Question 2.)  If you know you have D.C. arrests that are not listed on the MPD Arrest History Report for Purposes of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 or the PD 70, you must still include them in your motion so that you are moving to seal all of your arrests at the same time, as the law requires.  If you do not, your motion will be “dismissed without prejudice” by the court and you will have to start the process over. 

  2. Court Record
    Go to the:
    Clerk’s Information Office
    Criminal Records Division
    D.C. Superior Court, Room 4001 (on the 4th floor)
    500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
    (202) 879-1451
    Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

To obtain the information needed to complete the Motion to Seal Records:

  • Give your name and birth date to the Clerk and request your entire Superior Court criminal record; OR
  • Enter your name into the Court View software on the computers in Room 4001 to search for your records.

If the case does NOT have a number (usually because if it is a No Paper or Post & Forfeit), ask the clerk to assign you a case number to use in your Motion to Seal.  You MUST have a case number in order to file.

What do I need to bring to my meeting/appointment with my attorney?

  • DC Arrest/court records, if you have them.
  • Arrest/court records from any other state or jurisdiction, if you have them.

Resources:

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA)

DC Employment Justice Center

Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Collateral Consequences Publications

Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA)

Law Clerk Externships

Law Clerk externships are available with the Juvenile Service Program and Prisoner & Reentry Legal Service Program of the Community Defender Division.