The state of Washington allows some records of criminal convictions to be expunged or sealed. Expungement is referred to as “vacating a judgment” under Washington state laws. These statutes allow certain misdemeanors and felonies to be vacated if the offense qualifies and if certain provisions are met. When a record has been expunged, it is as if the person never committed the crime.
What Are the Requirements for Expungement?
Expungement eligibility is based on certain requirements, including:
- The person has completed their sentence
- The person has no pending criminal charges in Washington or any other state
- The record was for a juvenile conviction and the person is now at least 18 years old
- The person has spent a certain amount of time after the conviction without any other criminal convictions.
Washington makes several distinctions depending on the type of conviction. For example, expungement is allowed for the following types of crimes:
- Class B felonies: After 10 years
- Class C felonies: After 5 years
- Misdemeanors: After 2 years
- Gross Misdemeanors: After 3 years
- Other Juvenile Provisions: Juveniles may petition for expungement of Class A felonies after 5 years, and must only wait 2 years for Class B and C felonies, and misdemeanors.
It is worth noting that some offenses, particularly sex offenses, will not be eligible for expungement.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
In order to have a conviction expunged, the defendant must file a motion with the court indicating their desire to have the conviction vacated. This process can be incredibly complicated and call for several papers to be filed and multiple court appearances. Thus, it would be wise to seek the help of a Washington state lawyer. A local expungement lawyer will be able to help this process move along as quickly as possible, helping you get your life back on track.