LAW FIRM OF DAVID N. JOLLY
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime your future may be affected. There maybe options that can assist in cleaning up your criminal history. One such option is to vacate the crime from your record. If you want to vacate a criminal conviction, please read our Guide to Vacate Convictions.
“Vacate” is the legal term for the process for “clearing” a misdemeanor conviction from a criminal record when an individual meets certain requirements.
Certain non-violent misdemeanor convictions can be vacated in Washington State so long as these offenses that took place on/after July 1, 1984. The Washington State Patrol (“State Patrol”) will remove a “vacated” conviction from a public criminal history record. This gives some protection in background checks for employment, housing, and other purposes.
Once a conviction has been vacated, the individual may state that they have never been convicted of that crime. This may help answer questions on employment or housing applications.
Vacation of a conviction does not do the following:
Quick DUI Guide to Vacating a Conviction:
Learn the basics on Vacating a Criminal Conviction
Free downloads to help vacate a criminal misdemeanor conviction in Washington
*** CHANGE IN 2020 *** (SEE 2473-S.SL) ***(1) When vacating a conviction under this section, the court effectuates the vacation by: (a)(i) Permitting the applicant to withdraw the applicant's plea of guilty and to enter a plea of not guilty; or (ii) if the applicant has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court setting aside the verdict of guilty; and (b) the court dismissing the information, indictment, complaint, or citation against the applicant and vacating the judgment and sentence.(2) Every person convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense may apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of the applicant's record of conviction for the offense. If the court finds the applicant meets the requirements of this subsection, the court may in its discretion vacate the record of conviction. Except as provided in subsections (3), (4), and (5) of this section, an applicant may not have the record of conviction for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense vacated if any one of the following is present:(a) The applicant has not completed all of the terms of the sentence for the offense;(b) There are any criminal charges against the applicant pending in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal or tribal court, at the time of application;(c) The offense was a violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or an attempt to commit a violent offense;(d) The offense was a violation of RCW 46.61.502 (driving while under the influence), 46.61.504 (actual physical control while under the influence), 9.91.020 (operating a railroad, etc. while intoxicated), or the offense is considered a "prior offense" under RCW 46.61.5055 and the applicant has had a subsequent alcohol or drug violation within ten years of the date of arrest for the prior offense or less than ten years has elapsed since the date of the arrest for the prior offense;(e) The offense was any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor violation, including attempt, of chapter 9.68 RCW (obscenity and pornography), chapter 9.68A RCW (sexual exploitation of children), or chapter 9A.44 RCW (sex offenses), except for failure to register as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.132;(f) The applicant was convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense as defined in RCW 10.99.020, or the court determines after a review of the court file that the offense was committed by one family member or household member against another, or the court, after considering the damage to person or property that resulted in the conviction, any prior convictions for crimes defined in RCW 10.99.020, or for comparable offenses in another state or in federal court, and the totality of the records under review by the court regarding the conviction being considered for vacation, determines that the offense involved domestic violence, and any one of the following factors exist:(i) The applicant has not provided written notification of the vacation petition to the prosecuting attorney's office that prosecuted the offense for which vacation is sought, or has not provided that notification to the court;(ii) The applicant has two or more domestic violence convictions stemming from different incidents. For purposes of this subsection, however, if the current application is for more than one conviction that arose out of a single incident, none of those convictions counts as a previous conviction;(iii) The applicant has signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury affirming that the applicant has not previously had a conviction for a domestic violence offense, and a criminal history check reveals that the applicant has had such a conviction; or(iv) Less than five years have elapsed since the person completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations and successful completion of any treatment ordered as a condition of sentencing;(g) For any offense other than those described in (f) of this subsection, less than three years have passed since the person completed the terms of the sentence, including any financial obligations;(h) The offender has been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal or tribal court in the three years prior to the vacation application; or(i) The applicant is currently restrained by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an antiharassment order, or a civil restraining order which restrains one party from contacting the other party or was previously restrained by such an order and was found to have committed one or more violations of the order in the five years prior to the vacation application.(3) Subject to RCW 9.96.070, every person convicted of prostitution under RCW 9A.88.030 who committed the offense as a result of being a victim of trafficking, RCW 9A.40.100, promoting prostitution in the first degree, RCW 9A.88.070, promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, RCW 9.68A.101, or trafficking in persons under the trafficking victims protection act of 2000, 22 U.S.C. Sec. 7101 et seq. may apply to the sentencing court for vacation of the applicant's record of conviction for the prostitution offense. An applicant may not have the record of conviction for prostitution vacated if any one of the following is present:(a) There are any criminal charges against the applicant pending in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal court, for any crime other than prostitution; or(b) The offender has been convicted of another crime, except prostitution, in this state, another state, or federal court since the date of conviction. The limitation in this subsection (3)(b) does not apply to convictions where the offender proves by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she committed the crime as a result of being a victim of trafficking, RCW 9A.40.100, promoting prostitution in the first degree, RCW 9A.88.070, promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, RCW 9.68A.101, or trafficking in persons under the trafficking victims protection act of 2000, 22 U.S.C. Sec. 7101 et seq., according to the requirements provided in RCW 9.96.070 for each respective conviction.(4) Every person convicted prior to January 1, 1975, of violating any statute or rule regarding the regulation of fishing activities, including, but not limited to, RCW 75.08.260, 75.12.060, 75.12.070, 75.12.160, 77.16.020, 77.16.030, 77.16.040, 77.16.060, and 77.16.240 who claimed to be exercising a treaty Indian fishing right, may apply to the sentencing court for vacation of the applicant's record of the misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony conviction for the offense. If the person is deceased, a member of the person's family or an official representative of the tribe of which the person was a member may apply to the court on behalf of the deceased person. Notwithstanding the requirements of RCW 9.94A.640, the court shall vacate the record of conviction if:(a) The applicant is a member of a tribe that may exercise treaty Indian fishing rights at the location where the offense occurred; and(b) The state has been enjoined from taking enforcement action of the statute or rule to the extent that it interferes with a treaty Indian fishing right as determined under United States v. Washington, 384 F. Supp. 312 (W.D. Wash. 1974), or Sohappy v. Smith, 302 F. Supp. 899 (D. Oregon 1969), and any posttrial orders of those courts, or any other state supreme court or federal court decision.(5) Every person convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense, who was twenty-one years of age or older at the time of the offense, may apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of the applicant's record of conviction for the offense. A misdemeanor marijuana offense includes, but is not limited to: Any offense under RCW 69.50.4014, from July 1, 2004, onward, and its predecessor statutes, including RCW 69.50.401(e), from March 21, 1979, to July 1, 2004, and RCW 69.50.401(d), from May 21, 1971, to March 21, 1979, and any offense under an equivalent municipal ordinance. If an applicant qualifies under this subsection, the court shall vacate the record of conviction.(6)(a) Except as provided in (c) of this subsection, once the court vacates a record of conviction under this section, the person shall be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense and the fact that the person has been convicted of the offense shall not be included in the person's criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in any subsequent conviction. For all purposes, including responding to questions on employment or housing applications, a person whose conviction has been vacated under this section may state that he or she has never been convicted of that crime. However, nothing in this section affects the requirements for restoring a right to possess a firearm under RCW 9.41.040. Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, nothing in this section affects or prevents the use of an offender's prior conviction in a later criminal prosecution.(b) When a court vacates a record of domestic violence as defined in RCW 10.99.020 under this section, the state may not use the vacated conviction in a later criminal prosecution unless the conviction was for: (i) Violating the provisions of a restraining order, no-contact order, or protection order restraining or enjoining the person or restraining the person from going on to the grounds of or entering a residence, workplace, school, or day care, or prohibiting the person from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance of a location (RCW 10.99.040, 10.99.050, 26.09.300, * 26.10.220, 26.26B.050, 26.44.063, 26.44.150, 26.50.060, 26.50.070, 26.50.130, 26.52.070, or 74.34.145); or (ii) stalking (RCW 9A.46.110). A vacated conviction under this section is not considered a conviction of such an offense for the purposes of 27 C.F.R. 478.11.(c) A conviction vacated on or after July 28, 2019, qualifies as a prior conviction for the purpose of charging a present recidivist offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 occurring on or after July 28, 2019.(7) The clerk of the court in which the vacation order is entered shall immediately transmit the order vacating the conviction to the Washington state patrol identification section and to the local police agency, if any, which holds criminal history information for the person who is the subject of the conviction. The Washington state patrol and any such local police agency shall immediately update their records to reflect the vacation of the conviction, and shall transmit the order vacating the conviction to the federal bureau of investigation. A conviction that has been vacated under this section may not be disseminated or disclosed by the state patrol or local law enforcement agency to any person, except other criminal justice enforcement agencies.
Law Firm of David N. Jolly
218 W. Champion Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 | 410 Myrtle Street, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Further, if you are not a United States Citizen we strongly encourage consulting with an immigration attorney to determine how a criminal charge may affect your immigration status.
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