Written by attorney Jeffrey Alan Lustick

Vacating a Criminal Conviction from Your Record

It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to overcome the negative stigma and social disabilities caused by a criminal conviction. And in the modern age of information and the Internet, it's now very easy to find information about private citizens and even harder to avoid having people find out things about you which you may not want publicly known. As people with criminal convictions know, this can be especially true when applying for jobs, housing, educational opportunities, or even seeking credit. But having a criminal conviction on your record need not be a permanent fact of life. Given the ease of access the general public has to data and information about peoples' criminal records, it's nice to know that there is now a way for people who have criminal convictions to legally and permanently wipe those convictions from their record.

Similar to expunging one’s criminal record, Washington State law now allows individuals who have been convicted of most kinds of misdemeanors and some kinds of felonies to petition the court for the withdraw of their previous guilty pleas and to have their convictions reversed and dismissed.

Called a Criminal Vacation Action, once granted by the court, it allows you to legally, ethically, and morally state on job applications and elsewhere that you have never been convicted of a crime. It also removes your criminal records from public view in Washington State databases.

Not all kinds of convictions can be vacated, and most require certain circumstances to be met before a vacation may be granted. Some conditions under which a felony conviction cannot be vacated include:

1. If the crime is a class A felony, a crime against a person, or was a violent offense;

2. The person seeking a vacation cannot have any new criminal convictions

3. The person cannot have criminal charges pending in any municipal, state or federal court; and

4. The person cannot have any unpaid fines, fees, or court ordered restitution. Also, candidates for criminal vacations must also meet these requirements:

A. The person has served all the community service hours and paid all restitution required by the court;

B. If seeking a felony vacation and was on Washngton State Department of Corrections Supervision, the person must obtain a certificate of discharge from DOC;

C. The requisite number of years has passed since the issuance of the certificate of discharge (10 years for a Class B felony and 5 years for a Class C felony) or three years have elapsed after completing all of their misdemeanor sentence, including probation time. Clients seeking a vacation of their past criminal convictions need not live near the court where the conviction occurred. Most law firms are able to work with clients remotely over the telephone, on e-mail, or through the mail, as long as their conviction was in one of the courts located in their coverage areas It is also usually unnecessary for vacation clients to attend any court dates in securing a vacation of conviction, as the attorney attends all court sessions and handles the entire process without the client ever needing to appear.

The typical cost of this legal service throughout Washington State varies from city to city, but is usually from $1,000.00 to $3,000.00.

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