The proposed new vacate law (HB 1041) recently cleared a major hurdle in the State Legislature. On March 1, 2019, the State House voted unanimously to adopt the changes to the felony and misdemeanor vacate laws. Now, the bill has been introduced in the other branch of the legislature; the Senate. Should the Senate also vote in favor of the changes the bill will go to Governor Inslee, and then would become the new law of this State.
I previously described some of the major changes to the vacate laws contained in HB 1041. They include:
- Convictions for Assault Second Degree, Assault Third Degree (except for an assault against a police officer), and Robbery Second Degree would be eligible to be vacated. Convictions for these offenses involving a firearm or sexual motivation would be excluded.
- Eligibility to vacate a felony could start as soon as five years after entry of a guilty plea for Class C felonies, and ten years for Class B felonies; rather than having to wait these time periods from the date of the Certificate of Discharge.
- Convictions for misdemeanor Failure to Register would be eligible to be vacated.
- A person would be able to vacate more than one misdemeanor conviction.
Legislators, however, have already made one significant change to the proposed legislation. Legislators have restored the requirement that all legal financial obligations (i.e. court costs and assessments, not just restitution), must be paid in full in order to obtain a Certificate of Discharge (for felony offenses). This payment would also be mandatory in advance in order to vacate a misdemeanor conviction.
Legislative records indicate this bill (HB 1041) is receiving widespread support by prosecutors and public interest groups. This creates a strong indication this bill may pass the legislature and become law!
Please continue to read our website as I will update the progress of this legislation throughout the legislative session. Please contact our office if you have any specific questions how these proposed changes may impact you and your case.