Washington Expungement Services
Like most states, Washington makes your criminal records readily available to the public, regardless of whether you were ever convicted, meaning, even where charges were dismissed or you were acquitted at trial, the offense will remain on your criminal record forever. If you have a criminal record in Washington, you know that a criminal record can make it incredibly difficult to pass background checks for employment, housing, and to take advantage of many other opportunities in life.
Thankfully, Washington State law permits the sealing and destroying of both adult and juvenile criminal records in many circumstances. In circumstances that did not result in a conviction or other adverse finding, Washington law will often permit the actual destruction of your criminal record. For certain misdemeanor and felony convictions, you may have the conviction “vacated” (also known as expunged), and sometimes sealed if you satisfy legal requirements explained in more detail below.
Washington can be somewhat unique and often frustrating, as sealing, destroying, or vacating of a criminal record with the courts does not always cause other government agencies, law enforcement agencies, or private companies to do the same. Often, you must take action with other agencies such as the Washington State Patrol to ensure that your criminal record is properly removed. As a result, putting your criminal record behind you in Washington can be particularly challenging if you are not familiar with the process.
Vacating a conviction in Washington
Vacating a conviction in Washington results in the case no longer being treated as a conviction. This can be incredibly valuable, as vacating your conviction will allow you to legally state that you have not been convicted of the vacated criminal offense. However, vacating a conviction does not result in the destruction of the court records, which, unless sealed, will appear in the public record as dismissed. Vacating a conviction will not restore firearm rights, which is an entirely different process described below.
Vacating Misdemeanors: Washington law allows its courts to vacate a conviction for both misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors if each of the following are true:
- You do not have any criminal charges pending in any state or federal court;
- You may not have been convicted of new crime in any state or federal court;
- You have not have had another conviction vacated;
- More than three years have passed since you have completed all the terms of your sentence, (including financial obligations); and
- Within the previous five years, you have not been subject to a restraining order, domestic violence protection order, no-contact order, or anti-harassment order.
Offenses excluded from being vacated under Washington law:
- ”Violent offenses” or attempts to commit violent offenses;
- Driving under the influence, physical control of a vehicle under the influence, or operating other vehicle under the influence;
- An offense considered a “prior offense” and there is a subsequent alcohol or drug violation within ten years of the date of arrest for the prior offense;
- Obscenity, pornography, sexual exploitation of children, or a sex offense; and
- Offenses involving domestic violence.
Vacating Felonies: Washington law allows its courts to vacate a conviction for both felonies if each of the following are true:
- You have completed the terms of your sentence and been “discharged” by the courts;
- You do not have any criminal charges pending in any state or federal court;
- The conviction was not for a ”Violent offense” or crime against a person;
- You may not have been convicted of new crime in any state or federal court since being discharged;
- If your offense was a Class B Felony, it has been at least 10 years since discharge; and
- If your offense was a Class C felony, it has been at least 5 years since discharge.
CRIMINAL RECORD SEALING
Washington State law places a high priority on the public’s constitutional right to court records, making the sealing of records in Washington very difficult. You must essentially show that your privacy concerns outweigh the public’s interest to access court documents, which can be a very high standard to meet. For this reason, our law firm typically will only seal Washington State Patrol Records, and only when (1) your case was dismissed without diversion or some other deferred program, or (2) Your case was dismissed after deferred prosecution or pre-trial diversion. Our law firm typically does not seal court records or convictions, as doing so is extremely difficult in Washington; however, we do provide such services in limited situations with favorable circumstances. Washington law permits the total deletion of a criminal record on file with law enforcement agencies if each of the following are true:
- Your file only contains data relating to offenses which you were not convicted of;
- Two years have passed since charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty;
- Three years have passed since you were arrested and charges were not filed;
- You have no prior conviction for a felony or gross misdemeanor; and
- You have not been arrested for or charged with another crime during the intervening period.
Sealing your criminal record with the Washington State Patrol can be very valuable, as many employers and landlords use Washington State Patrol Reports, professional licenses are often easier to obtain, and records sealed with the Washington State Patrol are removed from the FBI’s NCIC database, which typically makes purchasing a firearm easier.
RESTORING YOUR RIGHT TO OWN A FIREARM
Restoration of firearm rights in Washington is separate process which is not related to vacating or sealing criminal offenses. In many cases, it is easier to qualify to have your right to own a gun restored than it is to vacate or seal a criminal record. Each case is different, but in most counties the process takes approximately four months to complete.
You will typically qualify to have a Superior Court issue a court order to restore your right to own and possess a firearm if each of the following are true:
- Five years have passed since the felony conviction which took away your firearm rights (three years if it was for a misdemeanor);
- You have no pending criminal charges or warrants;
- You have successfully completed the terms of your sentence and any probation;
- You are not prohibited from owning a firearm due to some other reason (e.g., mental health commitments, restraining orders, etc.); and
- The offense was not a Class A Felony or sex offense.
Please note that due to the extensive work required and discretionary nature of this service, we are not able to provide a money back guarantee on firearm rights restoration.
BEGIN PUTTING YOUR PAST BEHIND YOU TODAY
If you have a criminal record in Washington, you already know how embarrassing it can be, and how badly it can hold you back in life. If you are able to vacate your Washington criminal record, you can truthfully say that you have never been convicted. Our law firm operates in all 39 counties in Washington, offering low price and money back guarantees, flexible payment plans, and specialized legal services to fit your unique needs. To see if you’re eligible to vacate or seal your record in Washington, take our FREE and confidential eligibility test. If you would prefer to speak with one of our Criminal Records Analysts, feel free to give us a call toll free at (844) 947-3732.
Figuring out whether you qualify for an expungement under Washington’s laws can be difficult, and the process of actually obtaining an expungement can be very complicated and time consuming. As a result, hiring an experienced Washington attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of successfully expunging your record.
We understand that an expungement is an investment in your future and for that reason, you can take advantage of our low price guarantee, and flexible, no interest payment plans.
Click here to read the Washington State expungement statute.