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FAQ / Setting Aside Convictions Under The Youth Rehabilitation Act. What is it?

If you were sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act ("YRA"), D.C. Code § 24-901 et seq. (2001), you may be eligible to have you conviction "set aside." See D.C. Code § 24-906. When a conviction is "set aside," the record of the conviction is removed from all public records, but law enforcement and the courts can still use a conviction that has been set aside for “legitimate purposes,” such as sentencing you if you are later convicted of a different crime. Lindsay v. United States, 520 A.2d 1059, 1063 (D.C. 1987) (interpreting the now-repealed Federal Youth Corrections Act or FYCA, which the YRA mirrors and was intended to replace); see United States v. McDonald, 991 F.2d 866, 871-72 (D.C. Cir. 1993) (distinguishing a "set aside" under the YRA from an expungement for purposes of the federal Sentencing Guidelines); cf. Barnes v. United States, 529 A.2d 284, 286-89 (D.C. 1987) (policy goal of FYCA was to give delinquent youths a second chance to live within the law without the detriment of a conviction; thus, consideration of "set aside" conviction in sentencing for a subsequent crime does not defeat policy because youth is unreformed). Also, a "set aside" only removes the record of your conviction, so your arrest record will still appear on your MPD and Superior Court criminal records. Cf. Lindsay, 520 A.2d at 1063 (interpreting FYCA). However, a conviction which has been "set aside" cannot be revealed to a potential employer or other person doing a background search. Cf. id. (FYCA set asides remove the conviction from all records available to the public).

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