Washington’s redemption laws provide fresh opportunities for those with a criminal offense or arrest in their history. There is the newer Redemption or Second Chance Law, which allows those sentenced as minors to request a review of their case. There is also record sealing or expungement, which helps those with prior mistakes so that they can move on with their lives and expand the opportunities available to them.
Washington allows people whose charges and circumstances meet certain legal criteria to remove official records of their arrests or convictions. The expungement rules in Washington are more generous than the rules in some other states, but there are also some gaps or blind spots in the current process.
Lawmakers in Washington may eventually need to revisit expungement and Second Chance rules to update them to better protect the public.
Information technology has made expungement more complex
In theory, the connectivity provided by the internet should make expungement a bit easier. It is simpler for the courts to verify information and for people to connect with the services necessary to qualify for expungement or similar redemption opportunities. Those who can research the current expungement rules themselves can quickly validate if they are a viable candidate for record sealing.
Unfortunately, the internet and computer technology in general has allowed private companies to take public records, like arrest and conviction records, and create a private database of that information. Security businesses, private investigators and background check companies all maintain their own records of arrests and other important information that they believe their clients might like.
While some states have enacted laws that will apply to the records maintained by those private companies, Washington has yet to address such business practices in its expungement laws. Thankfully, a public record expungement is often sufficient to prevent most negative consequences of a criminal record.
When the state will not provide those records to third parties any more, the impact of an arrest or conviction on your future will diminish significantly. Getting the right support and educating yourself about the redemption rules in Washington will help you remove blemishes on your public record and make it easier for you to pass background checks in the future.