Expunging criminal records
The process of clearing a criminal record in Washington is often generically called “expungement.” However, this is only partially accurate. Expunging criminal records in Washington State does not correctly describe the process. The correct term for removing a criminal conviction from your criminal history is called “vacation” of a record.
When a conviction is “vacated,” here is what happens:
The court dismisses the information, indictment, complaint, or citation, and vacates the judgment and sentence against you.
The guilty finding is reversed, and the criminal charge is dismissed.You are released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense.
Your conviction is removed from your criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in any subsequent conviction.
You may state, for “all purposes” that you have never been convicted of the crime.The vacate order is sent to the WSP and FBI. Record of the conviction may not be disclosed to any person except other criminal justice enforcement agencies.
While certain rules apply to determine whether a person qualifies to have a criminal conviction vacated, it is important to remember that any decision to vacate a conviction is discretionary; meaning the judge has the option to deny the request.It is important to hire a Washington lawyer who will be thorough and prepared when seeking to ask a judge to vacate any conviction. Washington State has several laws dealing with the ability to vacate an adult criminal conviction. Each applies to a specific type of case.
Each has its own unique set of factors you must meet to become eligible to vacate a conviction. In most instances, despite statutory eligibility, the judge has the discretion to grant or deny a request to vacate a conviction.