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How to clear (vacate) your drug possession conviction after State v. Blake

State v. Blake is a 2021 Washington State Supreme Court decision that says the state’s drug possession law is unconstitutional. If you were convicted of drug possession on or before February 25, 2021, you can get those convictions cleared (“vacated”) and removed from your criminal record. You may also get a refund of the legal financial obligations (LFOs) you paid on your drug possession case/s. The law the court found unconstitutional is “Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance” or “VUCSA – possession” (RCW 69.50.4013 and earlier versions of that law). Packet #8720EN

Who does State v. Blake help?

  • A person in prison only for conviction of felony drug possession could be released.
  • A person in prison whose sentence was increased due to a conviction for felony drug possession could get their sentence shortened.
  • A person under community custody supervision for a conviction for felony drug possession (or attempted possession) could have their probation period stricken or shortened, a process called, “commutation.”

The Office of Public Defense and the county public defenders’ offices are prioritizing these cases. If your family member or friend hasn’t yet heard from their lawyer in drug possession cases for which they are in custody, they should contact their lawyer immediately.  

Find your public defender at the Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD). If your county is not listed, call the OPD Blake Program at 360-586-3164, ext. 218.

If you are in community custody only for drug possession and for no other crimes, you may be eligible for a “commutation” order from the Governor.

When the Governor commutes a sentence:

  • The convicted person is no longer required to finish serving the sentence.
  • Supervision by the community corrections officer ends.
  • The drug possession conviction stays on the convicted person’s court record as part of their criminal history.

The Governor’s commutation order overrides the original order requiring a person to serve time. The conviction itself remains untouched. Even if the Governor commutes your sentence, you (or a lawyer on your behalf) still need to file a written request to the court to vacate your conviction and request reimbursement of your LFOs.

Learn more about Blake commutation orders at the Washington State Office of Public Defense.

You also are eligible to have your felony drug possession convictions vacated and get your LFOs refunded or transferred to other cases in that county where you owe LFOs. See "Get your drug possession conviction vacated" below.

You may also be able to vacate misdemeanor drug possession convictions and get LFO refunds from District or Municipal Court.

The Blake decision can help you too, but you should get help from a lawyer.

Any noncitizen with a drug possession conviction on their record is at risk of being detained and deported. This is true even if you have legal status (such as a green card or DACA) or are applying for legal status. If your conviction is vacated under State v. Blake, it will no longer count as a drug conviction for immigration purposes.

  1. Consult with your public defender or the lawyer who represented you in your criminal case. You can find contact information for public defenders in the county where you were convicted at the Office of Public Defense. Because the relationship between criminal law and immigration law is complicated, you should not try to vacate your conviction without a lawyer’s help. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you.
  2. Ask your defense lawyer to contact the Washington Defender Association’s Immigration Project for support vacating your conviction and to make sure there are no other immigration issues with your case.
  3. Consult with an immigration lawyer. Contact the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project or one of the experienced immigration lawyers on this list.

Do not apply for new or renewed legal status or leave the United States without first consulting an immigration lawyer, even after you get your conviction vacated.

What can I do?

You or your lawyer must file a written request to the court in the county where you were convicted. That written request is called a “motion.” Every county is handling Blake motions differently.

Have a drug possession conviction in King County? Visit the King County Department of Public Defense and fill out their intake form. It may take them some time to get to your case, but they will vacate it for you if it is eligible for Blake relief. You do not have to be low income to qualify for this help.

For other counties, if you were convicted of drug possession and no other offenses and your conviction was not recent, you may want to prepare and file your own motion and file it with the court. You can fill them out online or download this self-help packet with forms and instructions for Superior Court. This packet does not yet work for District or Municipal Court.  

If you were convicted of other offenses at the same time as drug possession, your case is more complicated. Try to get legal help.

If your drug possession conviction was recent and you entered a plea to avoid a higher charge, there is a slight chance prosecutor will recharge you at that higher defense. Try to get legal help.

If you were convicted only of simple drug possession, you are entitled to a reimbursement of all LFOs that you paid for that case.

  • If you receive public benefits, be sure to report any LFO refund to the benefits agency. You may have to spend the refund quickly to avoid eligibility problems.

If you were convicted of drug possession and other crimes, it is less clear. It depends on what those other crimes are. Get legal help if this is your situation. See below.

Visit the King County Department of Public Defense and fill out their intake form. It may take them some time to get to your case, but they will vacate it for you if it is eligible for Blake relief. You do not have to be low income to qualify for this help.

For all other counties, in simple cases you should be able to vacate your conviction on your own, without a lawyer. But you may need advice to figure out if your case is simple.

If you have a low income, you can apply for free legal help from the public defender in the county of your conviction. 

The Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) has a list of their county offices here. If the county of your conviction is not listed, call OPD at 360-586-3164, ext. 218. They will refer you to a lawyer.

These civil legal aid organizations also offer free Blake assistance for people who are no longer incarcerated or under community custody. 

  • The Way to Justice: call 509-822-7514 or email contactus@thewaytojustice.com
  • Civil Survival: email info@civilsurvival.org (western Washington only)
  • Northwest Justice Project: Apply Online or call CLEAR 1-888-201-1014 weekdays 9:15 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. This line is often busy. Keep trying! 
  • Seniors (age 60 and over) can also call CLEAR*Sr at 1-888-387-7111. 
  • Deaf and hard-of-hearing callers can call any of these numbers using the relay service of your choice.

CLEAR has free interpreters when needed.

Before you start

Each court case has a case number (also called “cause” number) assigned to it. Before you can vacate a conviction, you need to figure out what your case number is. To find your case number online, it depends on the county where you were convicted.

  • King County, do not use this form. There's an easier way! Visit the King County Department of Public Defense and fill out their intake form. It may take them some time to get to your case, but they will vacate it for you if it is eligible for Blake relief. You do not have to be low income to qualify for this help.
  • Pierce County, search by your name on LINX
  • Other counties, search by your name on the Washington State Courts' Person Search or Odyssey Portal

This can be tricky. If you have trouble with the web search, try calling the Superior Court Clerk's office in the county where you were convicted. They can look up your name and tell you your case number.

If you are calling the clerk, also get your Judgment and Sentence and LFO Accounting Summary at the same time. (See below.)

Once you have your case number/s, you can get a copy of the Judgment and Sentence (J&S) from each case. This is the court document that lists the offenses that you were convicted of and the sentence the judge ordered. It also has the amount of LFOs imposed and your signature.

If you have paid any LFOs, you also need a copy of your LFO Accounting Summary. This summary shows how much you have paid, including interest. (It is sometimes called a "case financial history", not a summary.) You can ask for this money to be refunded to you when your conviction is vacated. If you were convicted of another offense in the same case, you may not be eligible for a refund.

For convictions from:

  • King County, do not use this form. There's an easier way! Visit the King County Department of Public Defense and fill out their intake form. It may take them some time to get to your case, but they will vacate it for you if it is eligible for Blake relief. You do not have to be low income to qualify for this help.
  • Pierce County, try to download your J&S from LINX. You will be charged for copies. You may still have to call the court clerk to get your LFO Accounting Summary.
  • Other counties (or if you cannot download from Pierce), you can ask the Superior Court Clerk's office for your J&S and the LFO Accounting Summary. You can do this in person or by phone or mail. This can take several weeks. You will be charged for the copies of the J&S. The LFO Accounting Summary should be free.

Need help? If you are having trouble figuring out your case number or getting a copy of your J&S, email LivingwithConvictionWA@gmail.com with your name and the county or counties where you have a drug possession conviction. With your permission, Living With Conviction will get copies of your J&S and email them to you for free.

Self-Help Forms: Washington Forms Online

Fill out forms to ask the court to vacate your drug possession conviction and refund LFO payments. These forms are for people who are no longer incarcerated or under community custody. For help with resentencing, contact a public defender.

Start online form 
 Start online Blake Vacate Forms
Washington Forms Online

Link takes you to a separate website.

If you do not want to fill these out online, download our printable packet below.

Disclaimer:  This program is designed to follow current law. It does not apply legal principles and judgment to anyone's specific circumstances.

Printable Packet: Download Self-Help Packet with forms and instructions

Printable FAQ: Download State v. Blake Frequently Asked Questions

Last Review and Update: May 03, 2022
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