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Domestic Violence Issue

Kennewick, WA |

In 1986 I admitted slapping my husband in 1984 after he said something hateful to me. The divorce judge fined me $50.00 for domestic violence. I never went to criminal court so I didn't think I had a record. In fact I passed background checks to become a security guard, then to work with seniors, then to take my state nursing boards. When I got my 1st nursing job in 2002 my supervisor asked me about a domestic violence charge that came up on my background check. That's all I could think it might be. At my next nursing job it never came up. I'm wondering if this would keep me from getting a firearms license? The application lists disqualifying offenses but I don't know what those crimes are - fourth degree assault and so on? I haven't been in trouble since. Thanks for your time and help.

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Attorney answers 4


Difficult to answer your question without knowing for sure what, if anything, is on your record. The first step is to check your record. If you do have a criminal record, you should speak with an attorney about possibly getting it sealed. Some types of offenses cannot be sealed. Again, without knowing the offense (if any) it is no possible to give you a precise answer. If you check your record and anything shows up, your record will state the offense in terms that likely will match with the disqualifying offenses. descriptions on your license application.

This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended to be a general statement of legal principles only. It should not be relied upon for any specific action. Please seek the advice of a qualified local attorney to review your specific case.


Contact an attorney and check your record to see what it is saying. If you have a charge on there that you would like to get vacated hire an attorney to do that. Expungement is another term that you will need to talk to an attorney about in order to take it off of the WA state patrol listing. I don't do this sort of thing so I am not sure of all the correct terms myself but I know you have to petition the Superior court for a hearing and give the State notice of it because they have the right to argue again the action if they want to. Good Luck


I do not know how things were done back in 1986. But, in 2013, I have never heard of any judge in a dissolution case imposing a monetary fine on anyone for domestic violence. The judge may be able to restrict the parent's time with children or order classes based on the history of domestic violence.

You likely should run a background check on yourself to see what others are seeing. If you are still in contact with that supervisor from 2002, perhaps the supervisor still has access to the records and can let you see them.


1) As Mr. Nyugen states, it doesn't sound right that a "divorce" judge would fine you for this, punitive contempt, punishment requires a jury trial, or plea of guilty to a criminal offense, so a fine wouldn't be imposed by a "divorce" judge for slapping your husband. (Judges can only impose punitive contempt for conduct in their presence.) It probably was a criminal conviction. Assault 4th or violation of a protection order would disqualify you from gun possession. See RCW 9.41.040 for the offenses prohibiting firearm possession.
2) To check what is on your record, attorneys like myself have an account with the WSP site to order your record by credit card for around $10, and we get it within minutes. You could go to their site for instructions on how you can order it, although your local District Court clerk or police station could perform a limited check, but due to the recurring issues, it might be best to get the WSP record. Employers can only get "conviction" data, not non-conviction data, unless they are law enforcement, ,so if it showed up on background check, it is likely a conviction.
3) If you do have a conviction based on domestic violence, you can file a motion to vacate it, since five years have passed, the waiting time for a domestic violence offense to vacate. There is no filing fee for that.
4) If you have only an arrest without a conviction, there should have been no fine, but if so, and it shows up, you can ask the WSP to expunge that by sending a form to them, because three years have passed.
5) Without vacating a conviction, you can still petition to Superior Court, under RCW 9.41.047, to have gun rights restored after completing all sentence conditions and showing you are not a danger. But that requires a filing fee.
Without seeing your record, from your description of a "fine" you may have a conviction, and your best bet is a motion in District Court to vacate it, which clears the way for gun possession and no problems with employment.



Thanks to you and everyone else who took the time to answer my post. I checked and have no criminal record. What likely caused my employer concern was a restraining order my ex filed before we even went to court as a legal move designed to help him gain sole custody. That charge was dismissed. Later in family court the judge ordered me to pay my ex the $50.00 for slapping him. Since he was paying me spousal support at the time he simply gave me $50.00 less when he wrote my next check. It was either that or the judge was going to fine him again for interfering with visitation/ignoring the courts order and then my ex could press criminal charges against me for slapping him. Our choice. Well my ex was worried along with a fine he also get jail time and then might not get it suspended, waved away with a swing of the gavel as he had the first time he was in contempt. I didn't want to go to trial, was able to avoid it by just admitting what I'd done, taking full responsibility for it and paying the fine. We both went for the sure thing rather than each trying to "win". After that we had an otherwise uneventful divorce and today we actually get along very well. We were both just very young back then. I guess because I knew I'd done this wrong thing when my employer asked me about any domestic violence I assumed she knew. That maybe I had misunderstood the judge and by admitting what I'd done I had somehow wracked up a criminal charge without a trial. Turns out she was just guessing by seeing there had at one point been a restraining order. Fishing I suppose but that's good. I would expect someone in her position to question something like that out of concern for the safety and well being of those she was ultimately responsible for. Still it's a very good lesson for all how something, one rash thing before you're even 21, old enough to legally drink alcohol (which used to be the case in our state) could land you with a criminal conviction to haunt you for life. I was fortunate my ex didn't press charges. It was a big relief to learn if that was my only charge I should be able to get it off my record. However I'm very glad that proved not to be the case, that I can avoid the expense, time and court appearance getting something like that off my record would take. Thanks again to everyone for your time and help.