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Clear Your Criminal Record

Vacating, Expunging, and Sealing your Criminal Record

If you have a criminal conviction in Washington State, it may be possible to have that record cleared, or at least prevent the public from seeing it. The attorneys of Findley & Rogers, PLLC have done exactly that for countless clients over the years. Each case is different, so please call us for a free consultation. Let us know about your criminal history, and we can tell you what options you have to clear your record.

A criminal conviction can have dramatic impacts on your life, including all of the following and more:

  • You may be refused employment.
  • You may have trouble securing a loan.
  • You may be denied an apartment lease.
  • You may not be allowed admission to a university.
  • You may not be allowed to travel to other countries, including Canada.
  • And many more…


So What Are Your Options?


Vacation of Conviction:

Washington State law recognizes that people can make mistakes and still be valuable members of society. The state legislature has made it possible to vacate a conviction in order to assist those people who have proven that they can turn their lives around after a criminal conviction.

Vacating a conviction actually removes the conviction from your Washington State Patrol public criminal record and allows you to legally state that you were never convicted of that crime, even on job applications. After a conviction is vacated, it should no longer appear as a conviction on background checks.

While vacating a conviction frees you of almost all the penalties of a conviction, it may not restore your right to possess firearms, and it will not delete the court record of the case. In most cases, you are only allowed to vacate one conviction from your record in your life, and it must be your most recent conviction. However, it may be possible to vacate multiple convictions depending on the types of convictions you have and the timing of those convictions.


Sealing a Record:

Sealing a record prevents the public from being able to view it, though the record remains in government databases. This can be useful in certain situations where vacating a conviction or expunging an arrest record is not possible. If you’ve had a case dismissed following a deferral, or if you’ve already vacated a conviction, sealing your case record will likely be your only option for additional action.

Sealing a juvenile record is usually a straightforward process, and it conveys a large number of benefits. If you have spent enough time in Washington without a new conviction, you will very likely be able to seal your juvenile record.

Sealing an adult record, on the other hand, is a more difficult and less certain process. . The Washington State Constitution includes a right to open court records, so a judge must make very specific findings in order to seal a record. A successful motion to seal your record will depend on compiling as much evidence as you can to demonstrate the negative impact that the record is having on your life. Proof that your record is costing you jobs, promotions, housing, or access to your children will all be helpful.

Sealing a record is not a good idea for everyone. Certain types of employers will still be able to see that there was a case associated with your name, and even though they cannot see what sort of case it was, they will likely require you to explain the case before making a job offer. Be sure to discuss what type of employment you are seeking when you speak with an attorney about whether attempting to seal a record is a good option for you.


Expungement:

An expungement actually destroys the police record of a person who has been arrested for a crime but was never convicted. This can be very valuable because, even if a case against you has been dismissed, the fact that you were arrested and other related information may still be available to the public. Having that information expunged actually has it erased permanently. Expungement is not available if you were convicted and had your conviction vacated, or if your case was dismissed after you completed a deferral.

Unless a court orders a police department to destroy their records, the law gives the police the right to decide whether or not to destroy your records in some cases. Some police departments are more willing to do this than others, so it is a good idea to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about expungements to determine what steps you should take. If the police are refusing to destroy your record, it may be worth making a motion to the appropriate court for an order directing the expungement of your record.


Restoring Your Firearm Rights:

Vacating, sealing, or expunging your record will usually not automatically restore your right to own, possess, carry, or use a firearm. In order to restore this right, a separate motion to the court normally must be made. You can find more detailed information about firearm rights here:

http://seattlefirearmrights.com/


How Do You Know If You Are Eligible:

Your eligibility to vacate, seal, or expunge your record will depend on a number of things.

To be eligible to vacate a misdemeanor conviction you must:

  • Have complied completely with the orders of the court in that case.
  • Have no new convictions since the conviction that you are attempting to vacate.
  • Have no criminal charges pending against you.
  • Never have had a conviction vacated in the past.
  • Wait 3 years from the date you complete all court requirements, including probation. (This may be 5 years if your conviction was for domestic violence.)
  • If your conviction involved an alcohol-related driving offense or a sex crime, additional restrictions will likely apply. Consult an attorney to determine whether your case is eligible for vacation.


If you have been had a no-contact order, protection order, anti-harassment order, or restraining order against you in the last five years, you will face additional restrictions. Consult an attorney to determine whether you are eligible.

To be eligible to vacate a felony conviction you must:

  • Have complied completely with the orders of the court in that case.
  • Have no new convictions since the conviction that you are attempting to vacate.
  • Have no criminal charges pending against you.
  • For a class C felony you must wait 5 years from the date you complete all court requirements, including probation, and receive your Certificate of Discharge.
  • For a class B felony you must wait 10 years from the date you complete all court requirements, including probation, and receive your Certificate of Discharge.
  • A class A felony, a serious violent crime, a crime against persons, or a felony DUI or Physical Control conviction cannot be vacated from your record.


To be eligible to have your record expunged you must:

  • Never have entered a guilty plea or been found guilty.
  • Have no criminal charges pending against you.
  • Wait 2 years from the date that your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty (some cases require a 3 year waiting period).


If you think you may be eligible for any of these services and you’d like to know more, contact the attorneys of Findley & Rogers, PLLC today for a free initial consultation.


What To Do Next:

Unfortunately some misdemeanors and felonies can never be cleared from your record. However, many can, and you should contact the attorneys of Findley & Rogers, PLLC to learn more.






This website is intended for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed as legal advice. Each case is unique, so we recommend that you consult a licensed attorney if you have questions or need advice about a particular legal issue. Nothing in this website is intended to form an attorney/client relationship between you and Findley & Rogers, PLLC.

Contact us today to discuss your case.

Phone: 206-331-7377

Fax: 206-486-9930

Email: info@findleyrogerslaw.com