Mistakes are just that. Mistakes.
At Betancourt Law, we want to you to have the best chance at having a productive future – where you put the past behind you and enjoy life going forward. We work with the state to help get previous convictions removed from your record and preserve the rights you thought were permanently lost. It’s an efficient, all-inclusive approach to vacating those convictions.
Washington State Expungement Frequently Asked Questions
Expungement, in Washington, is deleting non-conviction data, such as an arrest where the charge was later dismissed, or you were found not guilty at trial. Washington State Patrol maintains this arrest history that often can hold you back from employment, qualifying for a loan, or passing security background checks. A record is typically eligible for expungement two years after it becomes non-conviction data; meaning the charge was dismissed or a not-guilty occurred at trial. Otherwise, an arrest record/charge may be eligible for expungement three years after the arrest occurred.
An individual may not be eligible if they have been subject to a subsequent arrest, they have a prior conviction for a felony or gross misdemeanor offense, or a dismissal was obtained through a deferred prosecution or similar diversion program.
The process of removing a record of conviction is Vacating.
Vacating a conviction, in Washington State is a legal process that allows eligible individuals to clear their criminal record of convictions. Vacating a conviction allows an individual to withdraw a guilty plea or overturn a jury verdict of guilty, and dismiss the charge against them, providing an opportunity for a fresh start without the stigma of a past conviction.
Here are some key points about the vacation process in Washington:
- Eligibility: Not all convictions are eligible for vacation. Generally, misdemeanor and certain felony convictions can be considered for vacation if certain criteria are met. Eligibility requirements include completing all sentencing requirements, serving the necessary waiting period, and not having any pending charges or subsequent convictions.
- Waiting Period: There is typically a waiting period after the completion of the sentence before becoming eligible to apply for vacation. The waiting period varies depending on the type of conviction and can range from three to ten years.
- Eligible Convictions: Generally, non-violent misdemeanor convictions, certain felony convictions, and juvenile offenses may be eligible for vacation. However, certain serious offenses such as sex offenses, certain violent crimes, and certain DUI’s may not be eligible to vacate.
- Application Process: To pursue vacation of a conviction, an individual must file a petition in the court where the conviction occurred. The petition must demonstrate that they meet the eligibility criteria.
- Court Decision: The court will review the petition and supporting documents, consider any objections from the prosecutor or other parties, and make a decision on whether to grant or deny the vacation. The court may consider factors such as the individual's conduct since the conviction, their rehabilitation efforts, and the impact of the vacation on public safety.
It is important to consult with a qualified attorney to understand the specific eligibility requirements and procedures for expungement/vacation in Washington State. They can guide you through the process, help with document preparation, and advocate for your case.
In Washington State, not all convictions are eligible for vacation. There are specific criteria that determine the eligibility for vacating. While some convictions can be vacated, certain types of offenses are generally not eligible for expungement.
Here are some general guidelines regarding the eligibility for expungement in Washington State:
- Misdemeanor Convictions: Many misdemeanor convictions can be eligible for expungement if certain conditions are met. These conditions may include completing all sentencing requirements, serving the necessary waiting period of three years, and not having any pending charges or subsequent convictions. A first time gross misdemeanor DUI may be eligible to vacate if all conditions of probation have been satisfied, there are no subsequent alcohol related offenses, and 10 years have elapsed without any subsequent convictions for any crime.
- Certain Felony Convictions: Some felony convictions may be eligible for expungement if they meet specific criteria. Eligibility requirements can include completing all sentencing requirements, serving a required waiting period (which can vary depending on the offense), and not having any subsequent convictions.
- Serious Offenses: Certain serious offenses, such as violent crimes, sex offenses, and certain DUIs, are generally not eligible for expungement in Washington State.
- Juvenile Offenses: Expungement for certain juvenile offenses is possible in Washington State. The process for expunging juvenile records differs from the process for adult convictions.
It's important to note that the vacate and expungement eligibility criteria and processes can be complex, and they may vary based on the specific circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction. To determine the eligibility for expungement or vacating a conviction and understand the process, it is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal law in Washington State. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific situation and help you navigate the expungement process if you meet the eligibility requirements.
In Washington State, expunging or vacating a conviction generally does not automatically restore a person's firearm rights. Vacating primarily focuses on clearing a conviction from public records, but it does not automatically reinstate the right to possess or own firearms.
Under federal law, certain criminal convictions, including domestic violence offenses and felony convictions, can result in a loss of firearm rights. Even if a conviction is vacated in Washington State, federal law may still consider it as a disqualifying factor for firearm possession or ownership.
To restore firearm rights after a conviction in Washington State, a separate process known as a "Firearms Rights Restoration" must be pursued. This process involves applying to the court or other relevant authorities to regain the right to possess or own firearms.
The restoration of firearm rights can be a complex legal process. It typically involves demonstrating rehabilitation, meeting specific eligibility criteria, and receiving a court order or approval from the appropriate authorities. It is important to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in firearms rights restoration or criminal law in Washington State to navigate this process correctly.
Keep in mind that laws regarding firearm rights and restoration can vary, and it is essential to consult legal counsel familiar with Washington State laws to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding your specific situation.