Sealing Adult Criminal Records: Seal Records in Washington State

Sealing adult records is a very different procedure than sealing juvenile records. There are, however, some steps you can take that will encourage the court to seal your record.

Sealing your adult criminal court record prevents anyone from accessing the court records regarding your case and can be helpful for employment applications and apartment rental applications. This can help you move on from the past and take control of your life.

Sealing records in Washington State is a very different procedure than sealing juvenile records. There are no waiting periods that must be met before a court may seal an adult criminal record, instead the court is supposed to employ a balancing test to determine if the hardship that the record is causing you is sufficient to outweigh society’s interest in having access to that record. This decision is 100% at the discretion of the court, and many courts are reluctant to ever seal a record. There are, however, some steps you can take that will encourage the court to seal your record.

Vacating Your Conviction

If possible, before attempting to seal your record, you should vacate or “expunge” criminal records of any prior convictions.

State and federal law assumes that, if you have a past conviction, this is important information that the public has an interest in knowing about. By vacating your conviction, there’s nothing there for society to have an interest in knowing about, which helps tilt the balance in your favor when you ask the court to seal your record.

Findley & Rogers can help you expunge criminal records of any adult or juvenile convictions.




Gathering Evidence to Make Your Case

When you ask the court to seal records in Washington State, the judge will want to see evidence that your record is causing you hardships. It not usually enough to claim hardship; you must also provide evidence establishing your hardship.

This means you should collect evidence or ask an expungement attorney to help you start the process. If you were rejected for a rental, passed over for a job or a promotion, denied custody rights, etc., you should ask for written statements saying that you lost out on these opportunities because of your criminal convictions.

1) If possible, you should vacate your conviction first. Society is considered to have a great deal of interest in knowing that someone has been convicted of a crime, if that conviction no longer exists, then society has a substantially lower interest in the record.

2) Gather as much hard evidence of how the record is hurting you as is possible. If you are being denied employment, promotions, housing, loans, access to your children, or anything else because of your record, document it. Ask anyone who is denying you something because of your record for a letter stating that you are being denied as a result of the conviction. Judges have heard countless people come in and say that their records are unfairly affecting them, if you want your motion to succeed you need to show them something proving how you are being affected.

3) When a motion to seal a record is filed, courts will almost always schedule a hearing to consider that motion. You will be expected to defend your motion at that hearing. For this reason it is a very good idea to work with an experienced attorney in your attempt to seal your record. A knowledgeable attorney can craft a motion that meets all the courts requirements, and can defend that motion effectively at a hearing.

Firearm Rights

Sealing your record won’t restore any firearm rights that you lost as part of your conviction. You’ll need to file a separate motion for that, which our experienced firearm restoration lawyers can also help you with.

Let Findley & Rogers Help

Courts are generally reluctant to seal records, so it’s important that you make a strong case.

Findley & Rogers can help you make that case and seal records in Washington State.

Contact us today and let us help you through the process.

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