Expunging, Vacating or Removing a Misdemeanor Conviction. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
Vacating (the proper legal term for the process) a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor criminal conviction is a fairly simple process if you qualify. We consider this process mostly procedural in all cases but in convictions for Domestic Violence. Depending on the mood or policy of the particular prosecuting attorney’s office or local judge, this process can even be simple.
The questions our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys most field is:
How do I qualify?
Why do it?
How do I qualify? RCW 9.96.060 is the law that lists all the requirements and exceptions for vacating all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor criminal convictions except for prostitution offenses. It is worth contacting our office for an appointment to pull all the Judicial Information Systems, commonly called JIS (https://www.courts.wa.gov/jis/) paperwork if the following is true:
- It must be three years since you completed all the requirements of your sentence INCLUDING probation (INCLUDING unsupervised probation and any fines).
It must be five years since you completed all the requirements of a case involving domestic violence including any probation (INCLUDING unsupervised probation and any fines.It must be 10 years since you were arrested for a DUI that was subsequently reduced to Reckless Driving | Negligent Driving 1degree and it must be three years since completion of your sentence (including fines).
- You cannot have any subsequent criminal convictions or pending cases in Washington or any other state. Period.
- You cannot vacate driving under the Influence or DUI Physical Control cases or most attempted violent or sexual felonies reduced to misdemeanors.
- If the case you wish to vacate involved domestic violence, you cannot have had a prior domestic violence conviction.
- You cannot have had a prior case vacated (one in a lifetime).
- You cannot have be or have been civilly restrained, within the last 5 years of filing your application to vacate any gross misdemeanor | misdemeanor case, by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an anti-harassment order, or any civil restraining order which keeps one party from contacting the other party.
IF these are all true, call our office and we can speak in detail about your case. If we still believe your case is ripe for vacation, we can take the next step of an appointment. If you decide to proceed with our firm, we will pull all your criminal records on JIS (Judicial Information Systems) and order a copy of your background check with WSP (Washington State Patrol) so we have current records to submit with your motion. Generally, these motions can proceed as quickly as a week or can take as long as 6 weeks, depending on the court, prosecutor and whether the motion can be agreed to.
Why do it?
First, because you can. Removing a criminal conviction from your background is never a bad idea. It allows you to say you have never been convicted of the crime and removes all formal records accessible by the public.
Per RCW 9.96.060
“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. Nothing in this section affects or prevents the use of an offender’s prior conviction in a later criminal prosecution. 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.”
Over the course of our lengthy careers, our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal and administrative legal arenas. Our office is a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know cases are rarely as simple as the police reports or accusations claim. Our clients hire us because they want trained listeners who are staunch, uncompromising and effective. They want counsel who takes the time to listen and fight vigorously for the right result. Whether acting in our role as counsel, advocate, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience manipulating, working and fighting to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.