Courts and law enforcement agencies maintain records of those who are detained, arrested, charged, and convicted or acquitted of crimes. You have the right to inspect court records and criminal history records that pertain to you.
For information about a court record, contact the city or county court where the case was filed. This may be a municipal, district, juvenile, or superior court.
For information about a criminal history record, contact the law enforcement agency responsible for the case. This may be a city police department, county sheriff’s office, the Washington State Patrol, or another agency with police powers.
The authority to seal or destroy records and to vacate convictions is established by laws enacted by the Legislature and by rules adopted by the Washington State Supreme Court. State laws concerning court records and criminal history records change frequently, so you may wish to seek legal advice about your specific circumstances. You should consult an attorney to determine if sealing or destroying your record or vacating your conviction could affect your immigration status or your right to possess a firearm.
A court record includes documents, information, and exhibits that are maintained by the court in connection with a judicial proceeding. If a defendant is convicted, the record contains a disposition order or judgment and sentence specifying the crime(s) committed and the punishment imposed. If a defendant is acquitted or the court determines charges should not go forward, the record shows the action has been dismissed.
Court records are maintained by the clerk of each court. Court records, like court hearings, are generally open to the public. But a court can only address requests about cases filed in that court. If you have cases in more than one court, you must make a separate inquiry to each court.
Whether a court record may be sealed or destroyed and whether a conviction may be vacated depends on the type of crime involved (misdemeanor or felony) and the court where conviction is obtained (juvenile or adult).
Sealing or destroying a court record or vacating a conviction does not necessarily affect the records maintained by law enforcement agencies, other government agencies, or private concerns. Requests about records maintained by other agencies must be made to those agencies.
Juvenile Court Records
Sealing. The juvenile court file of an alleged or proven juvenile offender, which includes the petition or information, motions, memorandums, briefs, findings of the court, and court orders, is open to public inspection unless it is sealed under RCW 13.50.050.
A person who is the subject of an information filed under RCW 13.40.100 or a complaint filed with the prosecutor and referred for diversion under RCW 13.40.070 may file a motion to have the court order the sealing of the juvenile court file and other records relating to his or her case.
The court is not to grant a motion to seal records for class A offenses filed on or afterJuly 1, 1997unless:
The court is not to grant a motion to seal records for class B, class C, gross misdemeanor, and misdemeanor offenses and diversions unless:
Effect of Sealing. When a motion to seal records is granted, the proceedings in the case are to be treated as if they never occurred. Subsequent adjudication of a juvenile offense or a crime or charging of an adult felony voids a sealing order.
Destroying. Juvenile records, including those maintained by any court or law enforcement agency, are to be destroyed when:
A person 18 years of age or older whose only criminal history is one juvenile diversion agreement or counsel and release entered before June 12, 2008 may request that the court order destruction of his or her case record if the court finds that two years have passed since completion of the diversion agreement or counsel and release.
A person 23 years of age or older whose criminal history consists only of referrals for diversion may request that the court order destruction of the records of his or her case. The request is to be granted if the court finds that all diversion agreements have been successfully completed and no proceeding is pending that seeks conviction of the person for a criminal offense.
Deferred Disposition. If a juvenile is granted a deferral of disposition under RCW 13.40.127, at the conclusion of the period set forth in the order of deferral and upon the court’s finding of full compliance with conditions of supervision and payment of full restitution, his or her conviction, except under RCW 16.52.205 (first degree animal cruelty), is to be vacated. Records of deferred disposition cases are to be sealed no later than 30 days after the juvenile’s 18th birthday, provided that the juvenile does not have any charges pending at that time. If a juvenile has reached his or her 18th birthday beforeJuly 26, 2009 and does not have any charges pending, his or her request that the court issue an order sealing the records of the deferred disposition is to be granted.
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