LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Carl A Munson JR | Nov 7, 2010

Vacating Felonies in Washington

If you have been convicted of a certain felonies in Washington State, you may be able to have them removed from your criminal history and be able to state that you have never been convicted of that offense. It's true! Read on.

In Washington, we refer to this as "vacating" a conviction. That means you make a motion to vacate the offense in the court where you were convicted. The vacation of felonies in Washington are governed by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.94A.640. That statute lays out the requirements and restrictions on vacating felonies.

First, you need to know to vacate a felony is whether or not the felony is vacatable. RCW 9.94A.640 states that an offender may not have an offense vacated if the offense was a violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or the offense was a crime against a person as defined in RCW 43.43.830. You have to read those statutes carefully because some offenses you may think are not vacateable may actually be so if they are not specifically listed in those statutes. For example, a third degree assault is not eligible for vacation because it is specifically listed as a crime against a person in RCW 43.43.830, but an attempted third degree assault is not listed and therefore should be eligible to vacate.

Second, if the offense is one that is eligible for vacation, then you must also have received a Certificate of Discharge. A Certificate of Discharge is issued to the offender after he or she has completed all requirements of their sentence, including paying off legal financial obligations. Once an offender has been issued a Certificate of Discharge, they must wait a period of time before being able to make the motion to vacate. Class A felonies (and attempts to commit Class A felonies) are never eligible for vacation. For eligible B felonies, an offender must wait ten (10) years from the date of the Certificate before making the motion. For eligible C felonies, an offender must wait five (5) years, except that felony Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and felony Physical Control Under the Influence convictions must wait ten (10) years since the date of discharge.

Third, a person seeking a vacation can not have a new conviction in this state, another state, or federal court since the date of that person's discharge. That means no new convictions from the date the Certificate of Discharge is issued.

Finally, a person may not vacate a conviction if they have any criminal charge pending in this state, another state, or federal court.

If you meet those criteria, then you may move to vacate the conviction. Once vacated, RCW 9.94A.640(3) says the fact that a person has been convicted of the offense shall not be included in their criminal history for the purposes of determining a sentence in any subsequent conviction. The person is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the vacated conviction. One of the most important and valuable benefits from vacating an old conviction is that the person may legally state they have "never been convicted of that crime."

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