The New Hope Act was signed into law in May of 2019. The aim of this Act was to help people who have made a bad choice or mistake pay their debt to society and move forward with their lives, without the life-long stigma of a criminal conviction.
Previously, people who were convicted of crimes such as robbery and assault had little recourse and these convictions haunted them the rest of their lives. A criminal conviction can make it difficult to get a job, find housing and can affect parenting rights. According to the Washington Statewide Re-entry Council, between 8-10% of people leaving prison become immediately homeless.
What the New Hope Act does
This year-and-a half-old act makes it possible for people who have a criminal record and who meet the criteria to have their conviction “vacated.” This process does require a judge’s approval. Many people enlist the legal guidance of an attorney to ensure the process goes smoothly.
The New Hope Act helps in three ways:
- If you have a criminal record you can get that record cleared. You will no longer have to answer “yes” when asked if you have a criminal record.
- The time it takes to get a clean record is now shortened and your eligibility can occur the moment all fines and court costs are paid.
- Multiple misdemeanors can also be vacated or erased from your record.
Under the New Hope Act the charges are removed from your record, and the conviction is removed from your official record. The right to own and carry a firearm is a separate process and it is possible to have this right re-instated. If you have more than one domestic violence charge these charges may not be eligible to be vacated under the New Hope Act. DUIs are also not eligible to be vacated under the New Hope Act.
An attorney who works in expungement can offer guidance and answer New Hope Act questions for those who wish to know more about the process.