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How long must Washington residents wait to expunge their records?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Expungement

There are many ways that a Washington criminal conviction will inconvenience someone. First and foremost, they face arrest and court proceedings. After that, they will have to potentially serve the sentence handed down by the courts if they plead guilty or get convicted.

Finally, individuals convicted of a Washington crime have fewer opportunities in life because of the criminal record that follows them. Employers and landlords, as well as many other parties, will perform background checks when deciding whether to work with someone or offer them an opportunity. Criminal records have a way of limiting someone’s options and holding them back from the best opportunities in life.

Many people with a conviction on their record made a single mistake and would now like to move on with their lives. Typically, those with a criminal record must wait some time before trying to remove the blemish their conviction generated. When is a Washington resident eligible to expunge or vacate a criminal record?

Misdemeanor offenses

Those convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense may be eligible to vacate or expunge a conviction three years after completing their sentence. The waiting period begins after someone fulfills all of their court-imposed responsibilities, including serving a sentence of incarceration and paying all of their fines.

Only after three years have passed is someone potentially eligible to expunge the record of their prior offense. However, some misdemeanors require a longer waiting period. Violent offenses, including convictions related to domestic violence, have a five-year waiting period before someone can remove the record of that offense from their public record.

Felony offenses

A felony conviction as an adult is not necessarily eligible for expungement. Generally, only Class C and Class B felonies are eligible. A Class C felony carries the same requirements as a more serious misdemeanor offense. Someone must wait at least five years after serving their sentence and paying their fines to qualify to vacate the record of their prior conviction.

Someone with a Class B felony on their record must wait for at least 10 years to apply to seal the records of their prior offense. They will also need to avoid any additional criminal prosecution. People will only be eligible to expunge felonies if they avoid other convictions, with the possible exception of a single minor misdemeanor offense.

Someone with a Class A felony must petition the Governor for a Pardon. Kurt Bennett – The Redemption Lawyer can assist you with all of these.