Washington changed its laws in July 2019 to make it easier for you to vacate convictions in Washington. More people with felony and misdemeanor convictions can do something to get rid of them. Washington doesn’t allow people to completely expunge or destroy criminal records, but they do allow criminal convictions to be “vacated” which is often just as good.
Vacating a conviction releases you from from the penalties cause by your conviction. You can actually deny the conviction even happened. However, the law also clarified that vacating convictions does not restore Washington gun rights. Restoring firearm rights is a separate process that you may qualify for. To see if you can restore your right to own a firearm, please take our law firm’s Eligibility Test to find out. This focus of this article is vacating convictions in Washington, not restoration of firearm rights.
Vacating Washington Felonies
More felony convictions are now eligible to be vacated. These felonies include assault in the 2nd and 3rd degree, and sometimes robbery in the 2nd degree. To vacate robbery in the 2nd degree the conviction cannot have involved a firearm, deadly weapon, or “sexual motivation.” Also, convictions for second and third-degree assault cannot have been committed against a law enforcement officer.
How Long Do You Need to Wait?
The amount of time you need to wait to vacate felony convictions has also decreased. It is important to understand that you cannot be convicted of any new crimes during this period. This includes convictions in other states or federally.
Your waiting period starts on the later of the following dates:
- When you were released from probation or other community supervision;
- The date you were released from any confinement; or
- Your sentencing date.
The new waiting periods to vacate felony convictions in Washington are:
- Class B Felonies: 10 Years
- Class C Felonies: 5 Years
You Must Satisfy Your Financial Obligations
Finally, one of the most important changes is that the person need not have satisfied the financial obligations in order to qualify. This means that you must pay all court costs, fines, and restitution prior to applying to vacate your Washington felony conviction. RCW § 9.94A.640.
Vacating Washington Misdemeanors
The law for vacating misdemeanors in Washington has also changed. You may now seek to vacate your misdemeanor conviction even if you have another conviction afterwards. Washington’s new law just requires 3 years to have passed since the you completed your sentence. For those 21 or older, misdemeanor marijuana convictions can be vacated without waiting.
The requirements for vacating misdemeanor domestic violence convictions has also changed. Previously, you could not have had a previous conviction for domestic violence and then petition to vacate a second domestic violence charge. Now that barrier has been removed. The law states that you cannot have had “two or more domestic violence convictions stemming from different incidents.” Also, “failure to register as a sex offender” under RCW 9A.44.132 is now eligible for relief. RCW § 9.96.060.
What Does This Mean For You?
The new laws in Washington to vacate convictions have made it much easier for you to qualify. If you have previously been unable to vacate a conviction in Washington, you may be able to do so under its new laws.
The requirements are now easier to meet, but they can still be difficult to navigate without an experienced Washington lawyer. Sam Meyler is a named partner at our law firm and leads our Washington group from our Seattle offices. He has fifteen years of experience fighting for the rights of thousands of clients and is happy to fight for you!
If you want to see if you qualify, take our free, confidential eligibility test. It will only take you 5 minutes, and is the first step in finally getting rid of your Washington criminal record.