Get misdemeanor convictions off your criminal record
Read about Washington state's new law called the New Hope Act. It took effect July 28, 2019. This law makes it easier to vacate criminal convictions. You can now vacate more types of misdemeanor convictions. #8705EN
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Washington State's New Hope Act took effect July 28, 2019. This law makes it easier to vacate some criminal convictions that happened in Washington state. You can now vacate more types of misdemeanor convictions. You can also now have multiple misdemeanors vacated all at once, or at different times. This law and the required court forms were updated in 2022.
This is the legal term for removing criminal convictions from your criminal record. It gives you some protection in background checks.
- Give you some protection in background checks.
- Stop the State Patrol from releasing the record to the public.
- Officially "cancel" the convictions. You can then tell anyone, including someone who might hire you or rent you a place to live, that you were not convicted of those offenses Read more about sealing records and canceling (or "vacating") convictions at GR 15(b) (8).
- They will still be in court records and computerized court indexes to court records. If a conviction was a domestic violence case, these records and indexes will still show the case type.
- Information about the court records from the cases that led to the convictions are still public. You can still find them on courts.wa.gov.
- Prosecutors can still use evidence of vacated convictions in a later criminal prosecution. They can still use them in a sexually violent predator commitment proceeding.
- FBI records and private background check records may still have information about the convictions.
Maybe. See the previous section.
In some states, this means they delete convictions from your records. This is not an option in Washington.
You can ask Washington State Patrol to delete non-conviction data. In Washington, not much is non-conviction data. Read more about conviction and non-conviction data at RCW 10.97.030.
Maybe not. The prosecutor might agree to a vacate order, if you meet all the requirements. Ask the county prosecutor's office where your convictions happened if they will agree to a vacate order.
Yes. Courts will not vacate these:
- Sex offenses (RCW 9A.44). There is one exception. You can vacate a conviction for failing to register as a sex offender
- Convictions involving obscenity and pornography (RCW 9.68)
- Convictions involving sexual exploitation of children (RCW 9.68A)
- Violent offenses or attempts to commit violent offenses (RCW 9.94A.030)
Yes. In general:
- You can not have a conviction record cleared if there are any criminal charges against you pending in any court in Washington, in another state, or in any federal or tribal court.
- You must have completed the terms of your sentence for the offense. At least 3 years must have passed since you completed the terms of the sentence, including any financial obligations.
- You must not have been convicted of a new crime in Washington, another state, or federal or tribal court in the three years prior to your application to vacate.
- You must not have a current domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an antiharassment order, or a civil restraining order against you. You also can't have any violations of such orders during the 5 years prior to your application to vacate.
- Different types of misdemeanors may have additional requirements. Keep reading.
You must do all of these:
- Notify the prosecuting attorney's office that prosecuted you that you are filing to vacate these convictions.
- Not have 2 or more domestic violence convictions from different incidents
- Wait at least 5 years since you completed the sentences. This includes any treatment ordered.
There is only one requirement. You must have been at least 21 years old at the time of the offense. Use our Vacate a Cannabis (Marijuana) Misdemeanor Conviction packet. The Vacate a Cannabis (Marijuana) Misdemeanor packet also has instructions for vacating hearings that could be helpful to you even if your conviction is not related to cannabis.
Yes, if all these are true:
- You can prove by a preponderance of evidence that you were a victim of trafficking. You must prove that the offense you want to have vacated was a result of being trafficked.
- You have no other pending criminal charges anywhere for any crimes besides prostitution.
- If the conviction you want vacated is a misdemeanor, then you must not have been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal or tribal court in the three years prior to your application to vacate. This might be hard to do on your own. Get help from a lawyer.
You can have the conviction vacated if you are a member of a tribe that has treaty Indian fishing rights at the location where the offense occurred. Contact the Native American Unit of the Northwest Justice Project for more help. You can use the phone numbers listed at the bottom of this document to reach the Native American Unit.
You can use the Petition and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction (PT) and proposed Order form at the end of this packet. You can also learn more about getting ready for a vacating records hearing by reviewing the Vacate a Cannabis Misdemeanor Packet.
The Washington State Courts Website, courts.wa.gov, has a statewide directory of courts, with addresses and numbers. It also has legal information and forms, including:
Get Legal Help
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.