Conviction on criminal charges can have consequences that follow you around for the rest of your life. It can make it more difficult for you to get a job or find a place to live. Washington’s “Second Chance” laws offer several options to clear your record and make a fresh start. One of these is a vacation of conviction.

According to the Washington State Legislature, a vacation of conviction removes the offense from your record. This means that, if asked, you no longer need to admit to the conviction. For example, if a job application asks about your criminal history, you can answer “no” to a prior conviction on the particular offense.

How does vacation of conviction work?

There are three options for obtaining a vacation of conviction. If you pleaded not guilty initially and a jury convicted you anyway, the court can set aside the guilty verdict. If you initially pleaded guilty, a vacation of conviction allows you to withdraw the guilty plea and enter a plea of not guilty instead.

How do you qualify for a vacation of conviction?

Not every conviction is eligible for vacation. The list of requirements is very detailed. Your history of subsequent convictions may affect your eligibility. Many violent offenses do not qualify for a vacation of conviction although some do under certain circumstances. You cannot receive a vacation of conviction if there are criminal charges pending against you presently.