Expunging / Vacating / Reinstating in Washington State
A brief synopsis of when - and if - a case may be expunged or vacated or firearm rights reinstated.
EXPUNGING non-conviction data in Washington StateWhile state law does allow certain cases to be literally deleted from law enforcement records, those cases eligible for expungement are extremely limited. If you were ever convicted - or even placed on probation for a criminal case - then you are NOT eligible to have the case expunged. RCW 10.97.060 allows only "non-conviction data" be deleted from criminal justice agency files. Examples of non-conviction data would be an arrest that never resulted in charges being filed, or a case being dismissed outright by a judge for legal reasons. What is not considered non-conviction data is a dismissal resulting from a stipulated order of continuance, deferred sentence or deferred prosecution.
Non-conviction data may be deleted two years from the date the record became non-conviction date or three years from the date or arrest, citation or summons.
VACATING criminal convictions in Washington StatateAlthough very few cases are eligible for expungement, many criminal convictions can be vacated. There are, however, very strict requirements that must be met before a motion to vacate will be considered by a judge. If a charge is vacated the court withdraws the guilty finding, enters a plea of "not guilty" and dismisses the case. Vacated convictions still appear on your background check as a dismissed criminal case, but you can legally state you were never convicted of that crime. This is very helpful when applying for employment or apartments. Here is a general description of which cases are eligible to be vacated:
FELONIES: o cannot have any pending criminal charges;
o cannot have any subsequent criminal convictions since the date of discharge;
o the offense cannot be vacated if a class A felony, "violent offense" or "crime
against a person" as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 and 43.43.830 or a felony DUI;
o at least ten years must have passed since date of discharge or expiration of
probation for a class B felony. You need only wait five years if it was a class C
MISDEMEANORS: o cannot have any pending criminal charges;
o cannot have any subsequent criminal convictions since all terms of the
sentence were completed;
o cannot have had any prior cases vacated;
o at least three years must have passed since all terms of the
sentence were completed (including payment of fines/restitution),
yet you must wait five years if it was a domestic violence related
offense and ten years from date from date of arrest if a DUI related
o the crime cannot involve a sex related offense; and
o you must not have not been the subject of a domestic violence,
restraining or anti-harassment order within the past five years.
REINSTATING firearm rights in Washington StateUnlike vacating a conviction, only a superior court can reinstate the right to own or possess firearms under state law. Currently there are no options to formally reinstate your right to possess firearms under federal law, but reinstating under state law is often sufficient if a federal prohibition is also in effect. The petition must be initiated by paying a filing fee to commence a new legal action in superior court. The following conditions must be met:
o must have no pending criminal charges or pending arrest warrants;
o cannot have been previously found guilty by reason of insanity or a class A felony;
o must have spent at least five years in the community with no criminal convictions if
the reason for the loss of firearm rights was a felony, or only three years if a