Expungement Blog

Legislature Passes Bill to Change Misdemeanor Vacate Law; Awaits Governor’s Signature

Posted by Ryan Robertson on Mar 05, 2024 | 0 Comments

The Washington Legislature passed SB 5998, which will make a significant change to the eligibility requirements to vacate a gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor conviction record. The Governor must still sign the bill for it to become law. This new law should go into effect in the summer of 2024.

SB 5998 changes the time period a person must typically wait to file a petition to vacate a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor conviction. In most cases, this new law will allow people to petition to vacate a conviction sooner than under existing law.

So what will this new law do? A person will become eligible to file a vacate petition three years following the later of the following dates in a case: (1) the person's release from probation or supervision; (2) the person's release from total or partial confinement; or (3) the date of sentencing. The person must still complete all conditions of sentence, including payment of legal financial obligations.

How is this law different from existing law? This new law eliminates the requirement that a person must wait three years from completion of sentence requirements in order to file a vacate petition.

What is the practical effect of this new law? A big hurdle many people face is paying legal financial obligations. In many cases it may take years to pay off LFO's. Under current law, the three year wait period does not start until LFO's are paid in full. This can delay a person's ability to vacate a conviction record for many years.

Under the new law a person will no longer have to automatically wait three years from payment of LFO's. Instead, so long as the three year period described above has passed, a person is eligible to petition to vacate. The law still requires that all LFOs are paid, but delay in paying LFO's will no longer delay vacate eligibility.

Here is a description of a classic example I hear a lot. A person is convicted of a crime in 2020, is sentenced to no jail and no probation, but must pay an LFO. Due to financial difficulties, the LFO is never paid. Under current law this person cannot vacate the conviction until three years after the LFO is paid. Which means, if the person pays today (2024) they have to wait until three years (2027) to vacate. Under the new law, the person can vacate the conviction as soon as the LFO is paid. There is no additional wait.

Does this change apply to every case? Yes and no. A person must still wait ten years from date of arrest to file a vacate petition for a DUI “prior offense” conviction. But there would be no delay to eligibility based on delayed payment of LFO's.

Domestic violence convictions continue to be treated differently. A person must still wait five years from completion of sentence conditions, with the exception of paying LFO's. There would be no additional delay based on delayed payment of LFO's.

               The Washington Legislature makes frequent changes to the vacate laws, and these changes can be confusing. Robertson Law stays on top of these changes, and we are here to help you navigate your case to a successful conclusion. Please call or email Robertson Law with any questions you may have about your case.

About the Author

Ryan Robertson

Ryan is a creative and articulate advocate who limits his practice to criminal appeals and post-conviction relief including vacation, expungement, and sealing of records. He has worked exclusively in the criminal defense field since passing the Washington State bar exam in 1998. Ryan has been recognized as a Rising Star lawyer by Law & Politics Magazine.


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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.