Get Misdemeanor Convictions off Your Criminal Record
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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
- What is new?
- What does it mean to "vacate" a conviction?
- Why would I do this?
- Does the conviction completely disappear from my record?
- Could an employer or landlord still find out about my conviction?
- Can I have my conviction "expunged"?
- Do I need to go to a hearing?
- Are there misdemeanors I cannot get off my record?
- Are there special requirements for vacating a misdemeanor?
- When can I vacate a DUI misdemeanor?
- When can I vacate a domestic violence misdemeanor?
- When can I vacate a misdemeanor for marijuana use?
- Can I vacate a prostitution conviction?
- I am a member of an Indian tribe in Washington state. My conviction was for trying to exercise my tribal fishing rights.
- I don't need one of the special packets listed above. What forms should I use?
- Where can I learn more?
- Get Legal Help
What is new?
Washington state has a 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. You can also now have multiple misdemeanors vacated all at once, or at different times.
What does it mean to "vacate" a conviction?
This is the legal term for removing criminal convictions from your criminal record. It gives you some protection in background checks.
Why would I do this?
Give you some protection in background checks.
Stop the State Patrol from releasing the record to the public.
Officially "cancel" the convictions. GR 15(b) (8). 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.
Does the conviction completely disappear from my record?
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.
Info about the court records from the cases that led to the convictions are still public. You can still find them on www.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 info about the convictions.
Could an employer or landlord still find out about my convictions?
Maybe. See the previous section.
Can I have my convictions "expunged"?
In some states, this means they delete a conviction from your records. No Washington law allows this.
Do I need to go to a hearing?
Maybe not. The prosecutor might agree to a vacate order, if you meet all the requirements. Ask the county prosecutor's office where your conviction happened if they will agree to a vacate order.
Are there misdemeanors I cannot get off my record?
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)
Are there special requirements for vacating misdemeanors?
Yes. It depends on the type of misdemeanor. Keep reading.
When can I vacate DUI misdemeanors?
If it is a "prior offense," all these must be true. You must:
Not have had any alcohol or drug violations within ten years of your arrest
Wait until it has been at least ten years since your arrest date
When can I vacate domestic violence misdemeanors?
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 two or more domestic violence convictions from different incidents
Wait at least five years since you completed the sentence. This includes any treatment ordered
When can I vacate a misdemeanors for marijuana use?
There is only one requirement. You must have been at least 21 years old at the time of the conviction. Use our Vacate a Marijuana Misdemeanor Conviction packet.
Can I vacate a prostitution convictions?
Yes, if all these are true:
You can prove by a preponderance of evidence that you were a victim of trafficking
You have no other pending criminal charges anywhere for any crime besides prostitution
You have not been convicted of another crime (besides prostitution) anywhere since the date of the conviction you want to vacate
Use our Vacate a Prostitution Conviction packet. Get help from a lawyer. This might be hard to do on your own.
I am a member of an Indian tribe in Washington state. My conviction was for trying to exercise my tribal fishing rights.
I don't need one of the special packets listed above. What forms should I use?
Where can I learn more?
Washington State Courts Website: www.courts.wa.gov has a statewide directory of courts, with addresses and numbers. It also has legal info and forms, including:
Forms to seal Juvenile Court Records
Forms for petitioning for a Certificate and Order of Discharge
Get Legal Help
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to apply for legal help