Eligibility for Clearing Adult Criminal Records in Washington

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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In Washington, you may be able to have your adult criminal records vacated in the following circumstances:

Felony conviction:

If you meet the following criteria, a court may vacate a felony conviction:

  1. There are no criminal charges pending against you in any court, anywhere.
  2. You have not been convicted of a second crime in any court, anywhere.
  3. You have never had the record of another conviction vacated.
  4. You are not currently restrained, or (meaning within five years prior to the vacation application) by a(n): domestic violence protection order, no contact order, anti-harassment protection order, or civil restraining order.
  5. The request to vacate is NOT for one of the following crimes:
    1. Driving under the influence.
    2. Actual physical control while under the influence.
    3. Operating a railroad, etc., while intoxicated.
    4. Sex offense.
    5. Obscenity and pornography offense.
    6. Sexual exploitation of children offense.
    7. A violent offense or an attempt to commit a violent offense.

If the crime you are seeking to have vacated involved domestic violence:

  1. Provide the prosecuting attorney’s office with notice of your motion to vacate conviction and file the original notice with the court.
  2. Not have been convicted of another domestic violence offense arising out of any other incident.
  3. Five years must have passed since you completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including financial obligations and successful completion of any ordered treatment.
  4. Three years have passed completing the terms of the sentence, including any financial obligations.

Misdemeanor conviction:

If a person convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense has completed all of the terms of the sentence, then he or she may motion the court to vacate their criminal record. If the court finds that a person meets the requirements, then the court may vacate the record of conviction by:

  1. Permitting the person to withdraw his or her guilty plea to enter a plea of not guilty; or
  2. Setting aside the verdict of guilty, if the person has been convicted after a plea of not guilty,
  3. Dismissing the information, indictment, complaint, or citation against the applicant and vacating the judgment and sentence.

The court, however, will NOT vacate a record of conviction for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor if:

  1. There are any criminal charges pending in any court of this state, another state, or in any federal court (a state vacation or seal order does not work on a federal charge);
  2. The offense was violent or an attempt to commit a violent offense;
  3. It was an offense for driving or controlling a vehicle under the influence;
  4. The offense was any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor violation, including attempt, obscenity and pornography, sexual exploitation of children, or sex offenses;
  5. Cases involving misdemeanor domestic or sexual abuse of family members receive high scrutiny. A court will spend extra time looking at three things: (a) harm done to any person or property that resulted in the conviction, (b) prior convictions for crimes listed in RCW 10.99.020, and (c) a or b, plus any oneof the following will be enough to NOT vacate the record:
    1. The applicant has not proved written notification of the vacation petition to the prosecuting attorney’s office; OR
    2. The applicant has previously had a conviction for domestic violence. BUT IF more than one conviction arose out of a single incident, none of those convictions counts as a previous conviction; OR
    3. The applicant has incorrectly signed an affidavit affirming they did not have a conviction for a different domestic violence offense; OR
    4. Less than five years have elapsed since the person completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence; OR
  6. For any offense other than those described in (e, above), less than three years have passed;
  7. The applicant has been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal court;
  8. The applicant has ever had the record of another conviction vacated; or
  9. The applicant is currently restrained, or within five years has been, by any of these: a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an anti-harassment order, a civil restraining order.

For more articles on clearing your criminal record in Washington State, click on the following articles:

Overview of Washington Criminal Vacating and Record Sealing

Application Process for Sealing/Vacating Adult Criminal Records in Washington

Eligibility for Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records

Do I Need an Attorney to File for a Sealing or Vacating of my Criminal Record in Washington State?

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