A single criminal conviction can haunt a person throughout their life. It can affect employment, housing and many other aspects of life. A mistake when you are 20 can harm your life when you are 50. The court will not make a conviction go away - no matter what you were told. It is up to you to take action to clear your record.
How do I Expunge My Record?
Washington allows a process to dismiss a prior conviction. The process is called vacate and dismiss rather than expunge. A slightly different procedure is required if the conviction is a felony, misdemeanor or juvenile offense.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Expunge a Conviction?
That is up to you. There are forms available to do it yourself. The benefits of hiring an attorney from Powers & Costeck is that they will do all the paperwork, speak to prosecutor and attend court. You will not need to take a day off of work. Additionally, our firm will do it for a fixed fee so you know the cost in advance.
Why Should I Expunge My Record?
People expunge, or vacate, their convictions for many reasons. The first is for employment. Many occupations will not interview you if you have any conviction, felony or otherwise. If you have a conviction vacated you may lawfully state on employment applications that you were never convicted of a crime. To vacate a conviction also releases someone from all penalties and disabilities, such as the right to vote. Finally, if you are ever accused of another crime, a vacated conviction shall not be included in your criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in the subsequent prosecution.
How do I expunge or vacate a felony conviction?
The law that explains this is RCW 9.94A.640. There are a number of things that are required:
(1) You have successfully been discharged from your sentence OR are at least eligible for discharge from your conviction. RCW 9.94A.640(2) & 9.94A.637.
(2) You have not been convicted of any crime since you were discharged or at least eligible to discharge the sentence from your conviction. RCW 9.94A.640(2)(d).
(3) A significant period of time has passed since the conviction. This is usually 5 years (if the conviction was a Class C Felony) or 10 years (if the conviction was a Class B Felony). RCW 9.94A.640(2)(e) & (f).
(4) There are no current charges pending in any court in Washington, any other state or Federal Court. RCW 9.94A.640(2)(a).
(5) The conviction was not for a violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or a crime against persons as defined in RCW 43.43.830.
Why is a Certificate of Discharge Important?
This certificate is proof from the Superior Court that you completed all the terms of your convictions. This includes all your fines and you successfully completed probation. Many times, you can obtain it from the court once you pay your last fine. Other times, however, a person never obtains it even though all your sentence conditions were concluded. It that is the case you can request it nunc pro tunc or, in English, retroactively.
How do I expunge a misdemeanor?
The procedure to expunge, or vacate, a misdemeanor conviction is set forth in RCW 9.96.060.
The following have to apply in your case:
- there are no pending charges in Washington, any other state or federal court. RCW 9.96.060(2)(a);
- it was at least three years since the terms of the sentence (probation, fines, etc.) were completed OR if the crime was a domestic violence conviction, five years. RCW 9.96.060(2)(f);
- you have not been convicted of a crime since being sentenced for the conviction you are attempting to vacate. RCW 9.96.060(2)(g);
- you are not currently nor have you have been restrained by any type of protection or restraining order in the past five years. RCW 9.96.020(2)(i);
- Your conviction was not for any sex offense (RCW 9.96.060(2)(b), obscenity/pornography offense (RCW 9.68), charge of sexual exploitation of children (RCW 9.68A), physical control, operating a vessel or railroad under the influence or DUI;
-If the conviction was a crime of domestic violence you cannot have another domestic violence conviction from a previous charge. RCW 9.96.060(2)(e)(ii).
Can I seal my juvenile record? Can I expunge my juvenile record?
In Washington, you can seal your juvenile record. This is the same as expunging it. In order to qualify the following must be true:
- There are no pending charges in any state or federal court. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a) & b);
- You have spent at least two consecutive years in the community without being convicted of any crime. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a)(i); OR
- If the juvenile crime was a class A felony, you must have at least five years n the community without being convicted of a crime. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a)(i);
- The restitution has been paid in full. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a)(b);
- IF the conviction was a sex offense, the duty to register is no longer required. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a) & (b);
- The juvenile conviction was not for rape in the first degree, rape in the second degree or indecent liberties committed with forcible compulsion. RCW 13.50.260(4)(a)(v).