Written by Stryder Wegener
Expungement in the state of Washington may not mean what you think. Many people assume expungement refers to criminal convictions. However, in Washington, you cannot expunge a felony or any other criminal conviction. You may only be able to expunge non-conviction data, which encompasses records regarding an arrest and criminal charges that were dropped, dismissed, or defeated. If you are interested in having a conviction removed from your record, then you need to speak with an attorney about vacating a criminal conviction.
To learn more about expungement and vacating convictions, call the Seattle criminal defense attorneys of Emerald City Law Group right away. We will review your situation and advise you of your legal options. Contact us today at 206-973-0407 to schedule a free case consultation.
Expungement for Arrests in Washington
If you have an arrest that never led to criminal charges or charges that did not lead to a conviction on your criminal record, contact a lawyer about expungement. Arrests and charges unrelated to a conviction can be expunged in some cases, which means they are destroyed as if the incident never happened. However, expungement is not an option for charges in which you successfully completed deferred prosecution to avoid a conviction and your guilty plea was later removed.
To expunge non-conviction data, you must wait two years from the date of the dismissal of the charges, or three years after the date of the arrest if no charges were filed. During this time, you cannot have any new convictions or arrests. After this waiting period is over, you must submit an application to the Washington State Patrol along with a copy of the pertinent court record and your fingerprints.
This application, if granted, means the State Patrol will remove records of any arrest. However, it does not impact court records or Department of Licensing (DOL) records. If you are worried about public court records, then you need to speak with an attorney about asking a court to seal the records.
Can You Expunge a Felony Conviction?
While you cannot remove the record of an arrest (or arrests) in Washington, you may be able to vacate a criminal record, which retroactively dismisses the case. You can only vacate one offense in your life, so it is important to not rush into this decision. If you have multiple convictions on your record, you should speak with an attorney about which may be vacated, and if more than one can, which you should try to vacate.
If you have a felony conviction on your record, you must wait between five and 10 years before you can petition the court to vacate the conviction. Class B felonies require waiting 10 years, while class C felonies requiring waiting 5 years. The clock begins to run from the date of discharge. If you are not sure whether the waiting period has passed for your conviction, contact an attorney today.
You cannot have any other conviction during this time and you cannot have any pending charges when you ask for your conviction to be vacated.
Certain offenses are not eligible at all, including DUIs, sex offenses, violent offenses, crimes against another person, and class A felonies. If your felony falls into one of these categories, vacating the conviction is not an option.
If you are eligible for vacating a felony conviction, work with an attorney to ensure you fill out the proper forms, court documents, and that you include the necessary documentation. You may be able to obtain an agreement to vacate your conviction with the prosecutor. This would enable you to avoid a court hearing. However, you may also need to attend a court hearing and argue for this measure before a judge.
If your conviction is vacated, you can honestly say you were never convicted of a crime. A conviction also will not come up on a background check. However, this is not the same as having your records destroyed or sealed. Public records of the case will still exist unless you are able to have the records sealed. This is another legal process during which the judge has discretion to allow it or not.
Emerald City Law Group is Here to Help
If you have a criminal record that you would like to clean up, call Emerald City Law Group today. We will review your criminal history to determine whether you are eligible for vacating a conviction, expungement, and/or sealing your records. If you are eligible for one of these measures, we can guide you through the process.