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Expungement of Criminal Records in Washington State – 7 Steps to Clearing Your Record

You don’t have to be stuck with a criminal conviction on your record. Your Washington State criminal conviction can be expunged if you meet the criteria. And after your conviction is expunged, Washington State law permits you to state you have not been convicted for employment purposes.

Expungement is an often misunderstood term and process. In Washington State expungement of a criminal record or criminal conviction is accomplished by Vacating the Criminal Conviction. The terms Expungement and Vacating are largely interchangeable, the difference being that Vacating is the legal term.

Expungement of a criminal record by vacating the conviction does not destroy or seal the file. However, it is possible to destroy, or expunge, an arrest record if the eligibility requirements are met. When an arrest record is expunged, the booking photos and fingerprints are destroyed and removed from the police record.

In Washington State, the expungement process differs between felony and misdemeanor convictions. The following 7 steps are an overview of what is involved.

1. The Required Time Period has Passed Since the Case Completed.

The first eligibility requirement to expunge your conviction in Washington State is passage of the required time period. For a misdemeanor, the time period begins to run on the date the case is Closed. For a felony conviction, the time period begins to run on the date a document called a Certificate of Discharge is filed with the court. In both instances, a case is Closed or a Certificate of Discharge is filed after all the sentence conditions are completed as required.

2. The Conviction is Eligible for Expungement.

Certain convictions, and classifications of convictions, are not eligible for Expungement in Washington State. Generally, class A felonies (the most serious), sex crimes, and violent crimes cannot be expunged in Washington State. Among misdemeanors, Washington State does not permit a DUI conviction to be expunged.

3. You Meet the Clean Behavior Requirement.

Two situations will make your conviction ineligible for expungement. For a misdemeanor, if you were convicted of another crime on a later date then you would not be eligible to have the misdemeanor expunged. For example, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor in 1995, and another crime in 1997, then the 1995 crime would not be eligible to be expunged. For a felony, if you were convicted of another crime after the date the Certificate of Discharge was filed then you cannot expunge the felony.

4. Special Rule for Misdemeanors.

Washington State has an interesting rule that applies only to misdemeanor convictions. To expunge a misdemeanor, you cannot have had any other conviction expunged (vacated). What this means is if a person has a felony conviction and a misdemeanor conviction, and the person expunged the felony conviction first, then the misdemeanor could no longer be expunged. However, if the misdemeanor was expunged first, and if the misdemeanor conviction occurred before the felony conviction, then the felony could still be expunged.

5. Preparation.

An expungement, or vacation of a criminal conviction, requires a judge to sign a court Order. The court process is begun by filing a Motion to Vacate Conviction with the court. Prior to filing the Motion, you should get copies of the Docket and the Judgment & Sentence from the court clerk. You should also obtain a criminal history report, called a WATCH Report, from the Washington State Patrol website.

6. Your Day In Court.

Most Washington State courts require a hearing to Expunge, or Vacate, a criminal conviction. Most courts do not require you to attend if you have a lawyer appearing at the hearing on your behalf. If the preparation has been done properly, then the hearing should go very smoothly and the judge will sign the Court Order Vacating your criminal conviction.

7. Your Criminal Record is Cleared.

The court clerk processes the Order and sends a certified copy to the Washington State Patrol, which removes the conviction from the public database. The FBI record is updated based on the Washington State record. And, if the Order was prepared correctly, a copy will also be sent to the police department that handled the case and your record will also be cleared in their file. Your conviction has now been expunged (vacated), and your criminal record is cleared.

As you can see, you don’t have to be stuck with a criminal conviction on your record. It is not difficult to expunge a conviction in Washington State if you meet the straightforward criteria. In most cases, these 7 steps take only a few weeks to complete.

Copyright ©2008 Douglas Stratemeyer. All Rights reserved.

Douglas Stratemeyer has been a lawyer since 1992, and is a former part-time judge, who helps people expunge Washington State criminal convictions, clear criminal records, expunge juvenile criminal records, and restore firearm possession rights. Read more about him and how to clear your criminal record at his website http://www.StratemeyerLaw.com

Article Source:

Erase Criminal Arrests Legally! Expungement/Record Sealing ………………….. BY KENNETH A. VERCAMMEN, ESQ. If someone has been arrested or even had a private criminal complaint signed against them in the Municipal Court, they have a criminal record, even if the charges were dismissed. Under NJSA 2C:52-1 et seq. past criminal arrests and convictions can be expunged/ erased under certain instances. We always recommend individuals hire an attorney to obtain an expungement. The process for all expungements are held in the Superior Court. It takes a minimum of three months for the court to grant the expungement. The requirements are very formal. There can be a waiting period between 6 months up to 10 years after the criminal cases is finished. When retaining the attorney, obtain a “certified disposition” of the court’s decision, from the Court itself. Court costs and Legal fees for expungement range from 00- 00. Thousands of citizens over the past 30 years have been arrested for criminal, disorderly, and municipal ordinance offenses. The courts and police must keep a record of all arrests and convictions, even if 30 years old. These “secrets of the past” could be open to anyone including credit agencies. Under one proposal, for a .00 fee, someone could ask the state police for a person’s criminal record, even arrests with not guilty findings. Allowing access to a person’s old criminal conviction or arrest record could open the door for discrimination or job loss
Video Rating: 5 / 5

Question by waffles: Expungement?
Where can I get the paperwork to file for expungement? I mean besides visiting my lawyer?

Best answer:

Answer by Anatol Kuragin
Maybe at the county courthouse.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
Expungement Clearinghouse Announces Partnership with Foundation for Continuing
Today the Expungement Clearinghouse and Foundation for Continuing Justice announced a partnership designed to help those who have had their criminal record cleared by the courts to efficiently disseminate this information to the commercial background …
Read more on Virtual-Strategy Magazine

This video by a California expungement attorney, explains what an expungement is; clears up some dangerous myths about expungements; and explains the requirements for expunging a criminal conviction in California. Visit us at: www.convictionfree.com
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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6 Responses to “Expungement of Criminal Records in Washington State – 7 Steps to Clearing Your Record”

  • 777Qaib:

    Your the best ..

  • ttoki:

    Richard Glen Boire – #148189
    Current Status: Active
    This member is active and may practice law in California.

    See below for more details.

    Profile Information
    Bar Number 148189
    Address Law Firm of Richard Glen Boire
    216 F St #9
    Davis, CA 95616 Phone Number (530) 750-7912
    Fax Number (205) 449-3119

  • djinfo1:

    thank you so much you give my hope

  • rickyrsd:


  • kapn:

    Try the court clerks office………………

  • Emily M:

    The only way u can Expunge a case is if it is a misdemeanor and it can not be more then 2 years old.You can get all the paper work at the clerks office, But if you pass the 2 year mark you can only seal your case and you need a lawyer for that.


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