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Clearing Criminal Records Guide

This guide briefly discusses issues related to vacating or deleting criminal history records and most references are to materials for Washington State.   Visit either of the following web sites for definitions of the terms used here:

Introduction

If you were convicted of a crime in Washington state, you can apply to have the record of your conviction vacated or sealed. You must meet certain conditions set by law. The record of your conviction will not be destroyed; if you are later charged with another crime, this conviction could be used against you.

Where to Start

The State Court web site has a good overview for sealing/destroying court records, vacating convictions and deleting criminal history records in Washington State - it can be found here.  The laws that permit the vacating and sealing of records of conviction are in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). They tell you what is required to have your record of conviction vacated or sealed. Some of what you may need can be found at RCW 9.96.060 (misdemeanors), RCW 9.94A.640 (felony convictions under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981), or RCW 13.50.050 (juvenile offenses). If you need to get a copy of your criminal history record, contact the Washington State Patrol.

Helpful Resources

Expungement information from FindLaw.  This link leads to a portion of the FindLaw website dealing with criminal record expungment in general.  The information here will help you better understand how expungment works but you will certainly need to review our State-specific information for criminal records in Washington State.

Can I Clear My Criminal Record?.  This website offers a good overview of records expungement and includes a discussion of how to clear non-conviction criminal records and how to petition the court for the restoration of some civil rights.

A Guide to Sealing and Destroying Court Records, Vacating Convictions, and Deleting Criminal History Records. This website offers a good overview of the conditions you need to meet and the procedures you need to follow when sealing and/or vacating criminal records.

Criminal History/Records: When and How to Vacate Non-Violent Class B or C Felony Convictions.  This guide deals specifically with the procedures for clearing Non-violent Class B or C felonies and includes instructions and forms.

When and How to Vacate Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor Convictions.  This guide deals specifically with the procedures for clearing misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions.

Sealing Juvenile Court Records In Washington State.  This guide describes the type of juvenile records which can be sealed and provides instructions and blank forms you can complete by hand.

Sealing Juvenile Court Records Procedure from King County Superior Court.  This guide was written by the Juvenile Court Department of King County Superior Court.  It describes how to seal juvenile court records and includes sample forms.

Getting and Reading Criminal History Reports in Washington State.  This ACLU guide discusses how to find criminal history reports issued by various agencies in Washington State and how to understand what they report.

Guide to Criminal Records and Employment in Washington State.  This ACLU guide discusses the rights and responsibilities of people with criminal records who are looking for a job.

Washington Practice, KFW 80 .W3. Washington Practice is an encyclopedia of Washington state law written for lawyers. Volume 13, chapter 53 covers the restoration of civil rights, including pardons. The section dealing with vacation of records of conviction is limited to felony convictions under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981.

Criminal Procedures Benchbook for Superior Court, KFW 575 .W37. This book is a guide for judges to criminal procedure in Washington State. Section 26 deals with discharges and vacations of records of conviction under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981.

Forms

The state has published some official forms. If these forms do not fit your situation, you will need to create your own forms using the published forms as guides. If you are doing this yourself, you may want to consult with an attorney.

Misdemeanors: Official forms are available on the court forms section of the Washington State Court's website.  Choose the option for "Vacating/Sealing Records" under Criminal Law.  Before completing any forms, you should review the Information sheetThe Northwest Justice Project has a publication about vacating/sealing misdemeanor convictions that includes detailed instructions and forms.

Felonies: Official forms are available on the court forms section of the Washington State Court's website.   Choose the option for "Vacating/Sealing Records" under Criminal Law.  Before completing any forms, you should review the Information sheet.  In Washington Practice, volume 13, section 5308 you'll find model forms to vacate a conviction and restoration of gun rights.  The Northwest Justice Project has a publication about vacating/sealing felony convictions that includes detailed instructions and forms.

Juvenile Crimes: Official forms are available on the Washington State Courts' website page for court forms. Choose the option for Juvenile Court Records.  Samples are also available on the Juvenile Court Department's portion of the King County Superior Court web site.

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