This page was designed to help our clients better understand our Washington Vacate Misdemeanor Conviction service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.
Once your conviction has been vacated, Washington law states that the Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies many not disseminate or disclose the conviction to any person other than criminal justice enforcement agencies. Therefore, a background check that is based off the state or law enforcement records would not display the case. However, if the background check company pulls information from court records then the case will be displayed as vacated/dismissed. The law also states that you are able to state on employment and housing applications that you were never convicted of the crime.
Once a particular conviction has been vacated, it may be not used against you to enhance your sentence for any future offenses.
You do not have to disclose the case and can answer with confidence to any inquiry or to an application for employment that you have not been convicted of the crime.
Unless you are applying for a law enforcement or criminal justice position, you can truthfully say you were not convicted to any question for employment or licensing. Only law enforcement and criminal justice agencies will know about the conviction.
Section 19 of the FDIA (Federal Deposit Insurance Act) allows banks and other financial institutions to bar prospective and current employees who have had “Breach of Trust” or "Dishonesty" convictions from jobs that they are otherwise qualified for even if they had the conviction expunged.
"Dishonesty" means directly or indirectly to cheat or defraud; to cheat or defraud for monetary gain or its equivalent; or wrongfully to take property belonging to another in violation of any criminal statute. Dishonesty includes acts involving want of integrity, lack of probity, or a disposition to distort, cheat, or act deceitfully or fraudulently, and may include crimes which federal, state or local laws define as dishonest. "Breach of trust" means a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission with respect to any property or fund which has been committed to a person in a fiduciary or official capacity, or the misuse of one's official or fiduciary position to engage in a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission.
Whether a crime involves dishonesty or breach of trust will be determined from the statutory elements of the crime itself. All convictions for offenses concerning the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution of or trafficking in controlled substances are included. Other offenses can include but is not limited to the following: petty theft, grand theft, insufficient checks, burglary, possession of drugs for distribution or sales, embezzlement, fraud, fraud to obtain aid or benefits and money laundering.
If you believe you have a “breach of trust” or "dishonesty" conviction and were denied a position or were terminated from a financial institution because of that offense, there still is another way to obtain that job with a waiver from the FDIC. It is important to speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances to see if you would qualify for such a waiver from the FDIC.
You have an attorney to (1) make sure it is done right the first time so it does not get rejected or cost you months of delay (2) handle objections from the district attorney (3) send an attorney to court to argue the case if need be and (4) write letters to potential employers letting them know that the case has been reopened and will soon have the conviction off of your record.
No, we go for you. If the court requests your presence and you are unable to make it then we will request for your presence to be excused.
Once you sign up we have you fill out a questionnaire on your personal online account. The questionnaire asks questions that influence the outcome of the case and allows us argue your case before a judge. Although some of the questions may seem simple, the more information and detail that you provide in your answers the better we are able to argue the case in your favor.
The case typically takes three to four months, depending on your individual circumstances, the court’s caseload at the time, and whether there are any objections from the government. In many cases, a hearing will be held on your application/petition.
We base our estimates of how long a case will take on how long the average is for that service in that state. However, some cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA is agreeing or objecting, the age of the case, etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and DA in anything they need to get your case heard.
The courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner you sign up, the sooner the case is heard and decided. If it helps, we would be glad to write your employer or potential employer a letter letting them know we have reopened the case and are in the process of having the conviction vacated.
No, it does not matter. We can vacate your conviction regardless of what you pled, as long as you satisfy the requirements of the law for vacating the conviction.
If we are unable to succeed on your case, we have a money back guarantee for certain services. Please view the pricing for details regarding the money back guarantee.
We can create a payment plan that meets your needs. Please view the pricing for details regarding the payment plans.
We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your record and to review what can be done. We charge a researching fee that we apply that to the total cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
You are not eligible to vacate a misdemeanor conviction in Washington if you have been convicted for any other crimes ever since you were convicted for the offense you want to vacate. Convictions that occurred prior to the misdemeanor conviction you are trying to vacate do not count.
On the other hand, if your conviction was for an offense where you were supervised and then discharged by the Department of Corrections under Washington section 9.94A.637 (which typically means a felony), then you cannot have another conviction since the date you were discharged (not the date you were convicted).
At this time, there does not appear to be a way to reduce a felony once it has already been imposed. The time to do so would be before you received the conviction, via negotiations with the prosecutor.
You will receive a court order vacating the conviction—which has the effect of withdrawing the guilty judgment and dismissing the charges against you. You can then legally state that you were not convicted of the offense.
The court will direct the court clerk to immediately send the order to the Washington State Patrol Identification Section as well as any local police agency that has records pertaining to the case. The Washington State Patrol will also notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation that your conviction has been “vacated.”
The court updates its records and then sends the court order to the agencies. The law requires that the court clerk immediately notify the Washington State Patrol and any local law enforcement agency immediately once the order is entered, so that those agencies can comply accordingly.
If it is denied, it is usually because of (1) an inaccuracy in the court file, (2) an inaccuracy in the application, (3) the court does not believe it will be in the interest of society, (4) violating probation, (5) not paying fines, or 6) you are otherwise not eligible to vacate that particular conviction.
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If we do not believe that refiling would be successful or we recommend the person wait longer to refile, then there is a money back guarantee for certain services.
No. Sex offenses that require registration are not eligible to be vacated.
Yes. The Washington laws were intended to allow certain convictions to be vacated, as long as the other requirements are satisfied.
Vacating the conviction will not affect your DMV records. However, after a certain number of years the DMV records fall off and disappear, unlike your criminal history which never changes unless you have the conviction set aside. In Washington, most traffic offenses are not considered part of your “criminal history.”
If you have been convicted of minor offenses (including assault, dangerous driving, DUI, theft, shoplifting, unauthorized possession of firearms, possession of illegal substances, etc.) or indictable criminal offenses (including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc.) you may be prohibited from entrance and further action is required to find out whether you will be allowed entrance. The Canadian government has entered into an information sharing agreement with the United States; so the Canadian government will have the same information the United States has on record. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clear your criminal record to the fullest extent possible before submitting to a background check. The benefit of this will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and no longer considered a conviction and improve the odds of not being denied entry to Canada or being stuck at the border for a lengthy interrogation.
The Border Patrol has discretion in granting or denying Sentri passes. So the only thing we can say for sure is that it would help; so it would be wise to invest in record clearing before applying for a pass. A modest investment in expungement could be the difference between having your request accepted or denied. It will show that you have resolved all matters with the court.
In Washington, only convicted felons lose their voting rights. Even then, the voting rights of convicted felons are restored upon their completion of their sentence and release from supervision from the Department of Corrections.
Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, it is important to get a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case it is imperative you contact a qualified immigration attorney. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
You can only expunge certain cases. Typically, you have to show that the conviction was wrongful or unconstitutional. Additionally, a person can apply for a pardon through the President. We do not handle federal cases.
No. The two most common reasons for a person to lose their right to own or possess a firearm in WA are (1) being convicted of a certain offense or (2) being convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
(1) If you were convicted of an offense prohibiting the use, possession, or ownership of a firearm, vacating will not restore your right to possess, use, or own a firearm. To determine eligibility for restoration of the right to own a firearm, please see section on restoring gun rights.
(2) There is also a lifetime prohibition from the United States government (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by the federal law. The federal definition is narrower than Washington's definition, so your domestic violence conviction in Washington might not trigger the federal law. Setting aside in Washington does not lift the federal prohibition.
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Law Firm of Higbee & Associates
8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200
Redmond WA 98052
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