Washington Adult Misdemeanor Criminal Records
A brief guide on "cleaning up" your record in Washington State.
IntroductionIn Washington, there are only a handful of ways to "get something off your record." The first thing to understand is that you don't really have a permanent record that keeps track of high school grades and suspensions. You do have a credit score, criminal record, and court records.
The criminal record consists of a database maintained by the Washington State Patrol and possibly one maintained by the FBI. The FBI attempts to maintain records from all 50 States if the States provide the information to them. In Washington, if you are charged with a crime, there will be a record of your arrest and the charge. Both will be public records. The record of the arrest will be with the police department and the court. The record of the charge and what happens in the case will be available at the court. Only in the rarest of cases would you be able to seal an adult record.
Methods of Clearing a RecordIn most cases, the best you will get in Washington is a dismissal. A dismissal can come in one of several ways: 1) the prosecutor can just up and dismiss the case by filing a motion with the court; 2) the court can dismiss the case based on a defense motion; 3) the accused can compromise certain misdemeanors (pay civil compensation to the victim and request the court dismiss the case); 4) the parties can agree to a pre-trial resolution that results in a dismissal; 5) the accused can ask the court to defer their sentence; 5) the accused can entered a deferred under RCW 10.05; 6) or the accused can ask the Court to vacate the record of conviction after a certain time period. There will also be some sort of record of the case, but usually, if the case is dismissed it is not considered a conviction and does not have to be reported to employers and the like. In some cases, like that of a deferred sentence, you have to plead guilty and are convicted up until the end of the deferral period. So, if the sentence is deferred for one year, you must complete all the requirements in a year in order for your case to be dismissed.
Deferred Prosecution and VacationA deferred prosecution under RCW 10.05 is a very statutory procedure that is only available once in a life time. It requires the accused to believe that they are not innocent of the charge and that they have a mental health or substance issue that needs to be treated to prevent future criminal behavior. That is just the beginning, the accused must then enter a two year treatment program followed by three years of probation. If the accused is able to complete these terms, then the case gets dismissed.
Lastly, a convicted person can apply for a vacation (dismissal) of a misdemeanor. This is also only available once. It can only be done with the latest misdemeanor conviction. The sentence must be completed and all fines paid off. Depending on the nature of the crime, a certain time period must pass and then the person can ask the court to vacate the guilty plea and dismiss the case.