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Can I get my drug possession conviction removed in Washington?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2024 | Redemption Law

Drug convictions can affect crucial parts of your life, including housing and employment opportunities. Washington State has a path for people to get drug convictions removed under certain circumstances, which can significantly improve your life, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you begin the process.

Will my conviction disappear from all public records?

Unfortunately, even if you successfully vacate (clear) your drug conviction, be aware this doesn’t mean the conviction will totally disappear. People who go looking can still find a record of your conviction on the Washington Courts website. Additionally, the FBI, some private background check companies and private data brokers may still have your conviction on record.

Do I need to tell anyone about my conviction after it’s cleared?

No. For example, if the question comes up in a job interview, you do not have to tell them about your conviction. Vacating a conviction should provide protection from most background checks, but as stated above, it’s still possible employers and landlords may learn about your conviction. In these cases, you may have to explain the circumstances behind the clearing of your conviction.

How do I start the process?

If you live in King, Snohomish, Cowlitz or Lewis counties, you can contact the county directly to have your conviction reviewed. King County has an intake form on its website. Be aware this process may take some time.

People in other counties can speak to a lawyer about how to proceed. Those who cannot afford a lawyer should contact the county public defender to get the ball rolling.

You should also read how the 2021 State versus Blake court decision made Washington’s drug possession law unconstitutional. That link also has a 90-minute video about the conviction-clearing process.

What paperwork do I need?

You’ll need your case/cause number. If you do not know this number, you can check your county’s website or you’ll have to call the county government line. Unfortunately, each county has its own case catalog system, so there’s no easy way to summarize that here.

You’ll also need a copy of your Judgment & Sentence (J&S). If your conviction included legal financial obligations (LFOs), you’ll need a copy of your LFO Accounting Summary, which shows how much you have paid, including interest. Depending on the county, this may take several weeks. It may be possible to have your LFO payments refunded if you successfully vacate your record.

For more information, has an information packet about vacating drug possession convictions, including blank forms and instructions on how to prepare for your hearing.