Criminal Record Clearance: Vacating Past Convictions

The primary tool for removing a criminal conviction from your record in Washington State is a process called ‘vacating’ the conviction. If successful, this procedure removes the finding of ‘guilty’ from your old case file and legally entitles you to state that you have never been convicted of that crime. Once completed Washington State and private background checking companies will no longer be able to report that you have a conviction.

Old convictions can hang over your head, holding you back in many areas of life. The good news is that, in many cases, you can vacate prior convictions and get a clear criminal record. Findley & Rogers can help you with criminal record clearance in Washington State.

Vacating a Past Conviction

“Vacating” a criminal conviction, also known informally known as “expunging” a record, is the process of removing a conviction from your record.

If you successfully vacate a conviction, Washington State and private reporting companies will no longer be able to report that you have been convicted for that crime.

Criminal record clearance has huge advantages: It means you can lawfully state (on job applications, rental applications, etc.) that you have never been convicted of that crime. It also means that background checks (such as those for a rental application and more) won’t show your conviction.

Does a Vacated Conviction Go Away Forever?

While a clear criminal record will allow for you to have a clean background check, your conviction will remain in the state’s court’s archives. An in-depth investigation into your background (e.g., for a sensitive job requiring high security) will be able to find this history. However, in the vast majority of cases, employers, banks, and others do not investigate people this thoroughly.

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If you were convicted of a misdemeanor you must:

  • Have complied completely with the orders of the court in that case.
  • Have no new criminal convictions since that conviction in any State.
  • Have no criminal charges against you pending in any State.
  • Never have had a misdemeanor vacated in the past in any State.
  • Wait 3 years from the date you complete all court requirements including probation. (This may be 5 years if your conviction was for domestic violence.)
  • You cannot vacate a conviction for Driving Under the Influence.

If you were convicted of a Felony the conditions are similar, but waiting periods are generally longer and there are more crimes that are never eligible.

  • Have complied completely with the orders of the court in that case.
  • Have no new convictions since that conviction. (Although in some cases if you are convicted of a misdemeanor after you are convicted of a felony it may actually be possible to vacate both of those convictions.)
  • Have no criminal charges against you pending in any State.
  • For a class C felony you must wait 5 years from the date you complete all court requirements including probation.
  • For a class B felony you must wait 10 years from the date you complete all court requirements including probation.
  • A class A felony, a serious violent crime, or a crime against a person may not be vacated from your record.

If you think you may be eligible to vacate your conviction your next step should be contacting an experienced attorney to discuss your situation. Findley & Rogers always offers free consultations and honest analysis.

It is important to remember that sealing a record in Washington State does not restore your firearm rights if those were revoked as a part of your conviction. A separate motion to restore your firearm rights must be made to restore those, and you should speak with an attorney to make sure you qualify for firearm right restoration before attempting to make such a motion. Information regarding restoring firearm rights can be found here

Let Findley & Rogers Help You Vacate Old Convictions

In most cases, you do not have to live with past convictions hanging over your head. The attorneys at Findley & Rogers are ready to help you navigate the legal process of criminal record clearance in Washington.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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