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Removing a Conviction in Washington State: A Guide to Vacating for Employment and Housing

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

If you have been convicted of a crime in Washington State, you may have experienced the consequences of having a criminal record. Having a criminal record can make it

difficult to find a job, rent an apartment, or even apply for credit. However, there is a legal process in Washington State that allows you to vacate a conviction, which means to remove a court order from the publicly available database, the Washington State Patrol Report (WATCH).


Vacating a conviction can have a significant impact on your life, but the process can be complex and confusing.


Here is what you need to know:


What is Vacating a Conviction?


Vacating a conviction means to remove the record of your conviction from the publicly available database. This means that potential employers, landlords, and others will not be able to access your criminal record, and it will not show up on background checks.

However, it is important to note that vacating a conviction does not mean that the conviction is erased completely. The conviction will still appear on your criminal history, but it will be noted that it was vacated.

Who is Eligible to Vacate a Conviction in Washington State?

Not everyone is eligible to vacate a conviction in Washington State. The eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of conviction.

Generally, you will need a clean record for:

  • 10 years for class A and B felonies

  • 5 years for class C felonies

  • 3 years for misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors

However, if your charge was considered sexual, violent, or was driving while under the influence, you may not be eligible to vacate the conviction.


You cannot have an active restraining order, anti-harassment restraining orders, pending court orders, or active warrants. You will need to get those lifted before you will be eligible.


If you have 50 different case numbers, you will need to file one motion per case number.


The Process of Vacating a Conviction in Washington State

Vacating a conviction is a legal process that involves filing a motion with the court that convicted you. The process can be complex, and it is important to speak to an attorney before attempting to vacate your conviction.


Here are the steps involved in vacating a conviction in Washington State:


Step 1: Obtain a copy of your criminal record.


You will need to obtain a copy of your criminal record from the Washington State Patrol Report (WATCH). You can do this by paying $12 for a WATCH report.


Step 2: Determine if you are eligible to vacate your conviction.


Review your criminal record and determine if you meet the eligibility requirements to vacate your conviction.


Step 3: File a motion with the court.


You will need to file a motion with the court that convicted you, asking the court to vacate your conviction. The motion should include the case number, the charges, and the date of the conviction.


Step 4: Attend a hearing.


Once you have filed the motion, the court will schedule a hearing. You will need to attend the hearing and present your case to the judge. If the judge approves your motion, they will sign an order vacating the conviction.


Step 5: Notify the Washington State Patrol.


After the judge signs the order vacating your conviction, you will need to notify the Washington State Patrol records department. This will ensure that your conviction is removed from the WATCH report.


Conclusion


Vacating a conviction in Washington State can be a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it can have a significant impact on your life by making it easier to find a job, rent an apartment, and apply for credit.

If you are considering vacating a conviction, it is important to speak to an attorney who can guide you through the process and help you understand your legal rights and options.

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