Written by attorney Aaron A Pelley

Expungement in Washington State

In Washington State, deletion of non-conviction data makes it possible to delete the criminal records of a person who was arrested for but not convicted of a crime. Government and background-check databases may still list a crime in your file even if you were not found guilty of committing it. If you qualify for it, deletion of criminal history will remove the crime from your record in these some of these databases.

Who can request deletion in Washington State?

If you want to request deletion, the following must be true:

  • You never plead guilty to the crime you were arrested for.
  • You don't currently have charges pending against you in state or federal court.
  • Two years have passed since either your case was dismissed or you were acquitted of the crime.
  • Three or more years have passed since the day you were arrested or the case was filed.
  • You are not a fugitive and a case against you is not still pending in court.

Requesting deletion in Washington State

If deletion is possible in your situation, all the information proving eligibility must be given to the court. The rules for this process vary; you may need to provide documentation about the arrest and information about why you were not convicted of the crime. It's best to check with the court clerk about the process, or find an attorney from your jurisdiction. After that, these general steps apply:

  1. Get the deletion document, or Order deleting your criminal record, from the court. This should be signed by the judge who ruled that the conviction is to be expunged.
  2. Notify the arresting agency (the police or sherrif's department that originally arrested you for the crime) of the court order.
  3. Ask the court clerk to forward a copy of the order to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

On average, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to get the deletion order. After that, it takes 8 to 12 weeks to remove the criminal record from government and background-check databases.

What expungement may cost

Courts do not charge for the deletion process. If you hire an attorney, you will be charged for his or her services. Attorneys' fees depend on their experience and areas of expertise.

Additional resources:

Washington State Legislature (

Vacate a Washington Criminal Conviction (

Avvo's Criminal Defense Resource Center (

Related Legal Guides:

Vacation of Felony Conviction in Washington State

Vacation of Misdemeanor Conviction in Washington State

Criminal Rights


Seattle Lawyer (

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