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How much will it cost to expunge my record in Washington?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Expungement

The ongoing financial consequences from a long-ago mistake can seem particularly unfair. People who have atoned for their mistakes should be able to free themselves from these financial hardships without having to cough up even more money to reduce those hardships.

While the justice system has become more agreeable to less expensive expungement processes, actual laws to make this a reality have been slow to gain traction. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Washington does not have plans to reduce this burden.

How much are we talking?

Each case is unique, so it’s difficult to provide an exact figure. After filing and court fees, plus the cost of an attorney, the grand total can be a few thousand dollars. For people stuck in low-paying jobs as a direct result of their criminal record, that amount can feel like a cruel delayed punishment on top of your original sentencing.

Is there a way to save some money?

Technically, anyone can pursue expungement without an attorney’s help, but it won’t be easy. Again, each situation is unique, but the expungement process is complicated and requires a substantial amount of paperwork. It’s estimated that 75% of people who try to apply for expungement on their own don’t complete the process. Mistakes and missed opportunities can mean starting from scratch. If you are determined to go it alone, you’ll need heroic determination and patience.

Is it worth the money?

If you’re looking into expungement, you may have a good reason for pursuing it now. Perhaps an important promotion is out of reach, or you might have the opportunity to improve your housing situation, but your criminal record is in the way. Maybe you would simply like to close the book on that unpleasant chapter in your life.

It’s helpful to look at the situation as an opportunity, rather than yet another punishment. In the grand scheme of life, the sting of a few thousand dollars now will seem like a smart investment down the road. New and better paid job options become immediately available. You’ll likely earn that money back and more after only a year in a more lucrative job. The freedom to apply for home or business loans, go back to school or even just cross the border into Canada will be refreshing. In short, your “invisible prison” will be gone.