Expungement Blog

2009 ruling changed the landscape of sealing court records

Posted by Andrea Robertson on Jul 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

In February of 2009, the Washington Court of Appeals issued a new ruling affecting how court files can be sealed.  Click here for more information:State v. KRW. This decision (from a case we won at the trial court)  established new requirements for sealing, which call on judges to make several findings in addition to those required by GR 15 before they can seal records.

Click here for more information.

Expungement/Vacating/Record clearing

Washington law allows people to clear their criminal record in many circumstances, a process called expunging, vacating and/or sealing a conviction. This procedure often results in the "undoing" of a criminal conviction. If your conviction is expunged or vacated, you will be legally able to tell employers, landlords, and everyone else that you have never been convicted of a crime. Your criminal record will not be disclosed to anyone who runs a criminal background check with the Washington State Patrol, local police agencies, or the court system.

There is generally a waiting period before you can apply to expunge or vacate a record, and this waiting period varies from a few years to over 10 years (for the specifics, see RCW 9.96, 9.94A, 10.97, and 13.50).

This process allows people who have made mistakes to clear their record, and to rehabilitate their lives and reputations. For adult convictions, Washington law generally only allows you to vacate or expunge your latest conviction.

Please call or email us to determine if you're eligible, and also feel free to view information on our website. We strongly encourage you to run your official criminal record at the Washington State Patrol's web site for $10.00 before contacting us.  This will allow us to give you more accurate advice.

We have also had great success in getting our clients' court records sealed. Many other attorneys do not take this extra step when trying to clear someone's record. We feel it is important to seal all court records because most internet background searches query the Washington State Court computers, known as DISCIS and SCOMIS. While this process is slightly more complicated than simply expunging or vacating a conviction, it is almost always worth the extra effort. We are very familiar with the laws on sealing records, and we are happy to provide you with more information once we know the specifics of your case.

Sealing Juvenile Convictions

Washington law allows people with past juvenile convictions to seal, vacate, and/or expunge their records. Through this process, you can undo multiple convictions, prevent employers from finding out about convictions, hide juvenile social service agency files, and possibly have certain records destroyed. If you were convicted of a juvenile crime that was not a sex offense, and you have been crime free for any two year period after your conviction, and you don't have any charges currently pending against you, you may be eligible to expunge your conviction.

We can tell you if you are eligible for expungement and help you through the process. Once your case is expunged, we will follow through with local police agencies, the Washington State Patrol, the court system, and even the FBI if necessary to make sure your record has been cleared and sealed. We have handled many expungements and are very familiar with the requirements and the process.

Firearm/Gun Rights

We also have experience handling restoration of firearm rights and voting rights.  If you were convicted of a Class B or C felony in Washington, and it has been more than 5 years since you were convicted or released from jail, and you don't have any charges currently pending against you, you may be eligible to have your firearm rights restored.

Firearm Rights - Misdemeanor

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor in Washington that caused you to lose your right to possess a firearm, and it has been more than 3 years since you completed the terms of your sentence (including paying the fine), and you don't have any charges currently pending against you, you may be eligible to have your firearm rights restored.

Voting Rights

We have successfully restored many of our clients' right to vote in Washington after felony convictions. If you are interested in restoring your right to vote, please call or email us.

Since the KRW decision, we continue to have great success having records vacated, sealed, and in certain cases even expunged, as well as our clients' firearm rights restored.

We typically argue several of these cases each month.

About the Author

Andrea Robertson

UPDATE: After 22 years as a passionate advocate, Andrea was honored to receive an appointment from Governor Jay Inslee to fill a position as Judge of the King County Superior Court.    Andrea accepted the appointment and was sworn in on December 31, 2020.  She is no longer in practice and cannot ...


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Robertson Law

The attorneys of Robertson Law have a proven track record of creative and effective advocacy for clients throughout the state of Washington.

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Ryan Robertson's practice focuses exclusively on high-quality creative appellate representation in criminal and administrative matters, as well as expungements, vacation of records, and petitions to seal.