If a single mistake you made in your past lead to arrest and prosecution, you can apply to the Washington courts to have your records expunged. This means they will be permanently sealed. Anyone conducting a background check won't have access to them and you'll be within your legal rights to say the incident never happened. Washington expungement laws allow you to get rid of that criminal baggage and start with a fresh slate.
When the charges against you were dismissed or you were found not guilty, your chances of obtaining an expungement are greater. With convictions of crimes, you will need to meet certain requirements before an expungement will be granted.
Juvenile Record Expungement
If there is one period of time when we make the most mistakes it's when we're teenagers. Sometimes these mistakes get us in trouble with the law, but that's no reason for that incident to ruin the rest of your life.
According to Washington expungement laws, you can request to have your records sealed when you turn 18 only if there was one conviction, you paid whatever fine you were assessed and the crime didn't involve anything of a sexual offense. Keep in mind that these records can be unsealed if you are later charge with a felony offense.
Waiting Period for Expungement
One of the principles behind criminal record expungement is that it applies to one time offenders. To insure that you stay out of trouble, there are waiting periods before you can apply for an expungement. If you were charged with a Class B felony, you'll have to wait ten years. With a Class C the wait is five years. A misdemeanor conviction will have you waiting for two years before you can apply.
Requirements for Expungement of Felony Convictions
In order to have your adult felony criminal record expunged, you need to meet the same conditions as you would with a juvenile record. You must have completed any sentence or paid any fine. Additionally, there can be no other charges pending against you. Also, the conviction you are seeking to have expunged can not involve a sexual offense or bodily harm to another person. You will not be granted an expungement with a Class A felony conviction.
Requirements for Expungement of Misdemeanor Convictions
If you are seeking to have your misdemeanor convictions expunged then you need to wait for the designated time period without any other conviction pending against you. You'll be denied expungement if the conviction was for a sexual offense, didn't involve being intoxicated or you have a court order of protection against you.
To file for an expungement you should retain the services of legal counsel. An experience criminal defense lawyer will be in the best position to navigate through the Washington court system and insure that your application is up to standard. Applying for an expungement is not something you want to screw up. See also:
Washington Misdemeanors External link (opens in new window)
Washington DC Felony External link (opens in new window)
Washington Felony External link (opens in new window)