The Washington Legislature is in session now and two bills have been proposed to allow for mandatory vacation of misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions from a person's criminal history. These proposed new laws stem from the fact that in 2012 the State of Washington decriminalized marijuana possession.
The first bill – “Senate Bill” (SB) 5461 – states that a court shall vacate the conviction of any misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction so long as certain criteria are met. First, the person must have no pending criminal charges anywhere. Second, the person may not have a criminal history which includes any of the following: (a) any violent offenses; (b) any DUI related offenses; or (c) any sex offenses. This proposed law would exempt marijuana convictions from the other restrictions that apply to vacating misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions. A person would not have to wait three or five years to vacate. A person does not have to prove they completed all terms of the sentence imposed. The person is not restricted to vacating only one conviction. The person is not restricted from vacating a marijuana conviction even if they have previously vacated another conviction.
The second bill – “House Bill” (HB) 1041 – is even simpler. This proposed law states that the court shall vacate the conviction of any misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction so long as the person was 21 or older when the offense was committed. Just like with SB 5461, there are no other restrictions and the person could conceivably vacate more than one misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction from their record.
The legislative session has just started and we are a long way from finding out whether these bills will become law. Please check our website again as we will post updates on how these bills progress through the legislature, and hopefully become the law of this State.