This page will answer questions related to record sealing in general as well as questions specific to our Washington adult record sealing service. Let us guide you through the record sealing process. You can find a wealth of information below or go directly to our record sealing service to learn more or sign up. If you want to find out if your record is eligible for sealing you can take our free online eligibility test.
Simply click on a question to see its answer:
No. Although there are various ways to seal records kept by the Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies, sealing the court records of a case is very difficult because the Washington Constitution strongly favors open access to court records. If your case was a juvenile case, please view the section of our web-site regarding juvenile record sealing.
If your case was an adult case, you must show that your privacy concerns outweigh the public’s interest in having access to the court records. Your chances are increased if your conviction was vacated first.
No. Having the conviction “vacated” is, although helpful, not enough. In a recent case, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the person must also show a “compelling privacy” interest that is greater than the public’s constitutional right of access to court records. State v. Waldon (2009). The court must balance the two interests.
If you were arrested but not convicted or you received deferred prosecution then we can seal the records of the arrest with the Washington State Patrol and criminal agencies. If the case was a dismissal without deferred prosecution then the Washington State Patrol and arresting agencies shall seal the records. However, if you received deferred prosecution in the case, you have a prior conviction for a felony or gross misdemeanor, or you have been arrested or charged with another crime during the time since the arrest you are trying to seal, then the criminal justice agency has the discretion of whether to seal the records. That is why it is important to be familiar with the agencies and present the best possible case to them . You may also seal the court records, but you must file for that separately. In order for the court to seal their records you must prove that it is justified by compelling privacy or safety concerns that are more important than the record staying public.
If you were arrested and received deferred sentence or were convicted, then you can seal the court records if you have good cause. Specifically, the court must find that sealing your record is justified by compelling privacy or safety concerns that are more important than the record staying public.
A prosecution is a condition that the judge gave you for your case. Most the time you have to complete certain requirements and the judge will dismiss the case. If you are not sure if you received either of the two, then we can research the case for you for a fee. If you then sign up for a service, the fee will apply to the total.
The court must find that the sealing is justified by compelling privacy or safety concerns that are more important than the record staying public.
There is no clear cut answer on that definition but you should show more evidence than that it may harm you in the future. For instance, any document that shows you have been harmed in the past will increase your chances. If you would like us to evaluate your case and write an analysis of your chances of success and the argument we will use then we can for a fee. If you then sign up for the service, we will apply the fee paid for the analysis to the total cost.
Yes, vacating your conviction will increase your chances of having your case sealed.
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 and we apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
Having multiple convictions will not necessarily make you ineligible to seal a particular conviction. However, if you are applying to seal the Washington State Patrol and criminal justice agencies, then they can take the other cases that occur after this case into account when deciding whether to seal this case.
Yes, in most of cases.
Then we will respond to the objections, and we represent you at any hearings.
Requests are denied for the following reasons: (1) an inaccuracy in the court file, (2) an inaccuracy in the application, (3) the court does not believe you deserve to have the court and/or law enforcement records sealed, or (4) you are otherwise not eligible.
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.
Vacating a case simply means the court will set aside the guilty judgment (whether the judgement is a guilty plea or a guilty verdict after a trial) and then dismiss the charges as though they were never brought. You can then legally deny the case ever existed. However, the court records are still open to the public in most instances.
No. Once a case has been sealed you can legally deny the existence of the case.
Yes. A conviction that has been sealed can be used in future prosecutions.
No. Sealing does not affect your DMV record. However, after a certain number of years the DMV records fall off and disappear, unlike your criminal history which never disappears unless you have it expunged or sealed.
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, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is vital. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
This depends on the type of background check that is conducted, and what “type of sealing” you get. If only Washington State Patrol/law enforcement files are sealed then the case may still show up through searches of court records but not through criminal justice agency searches. If BOTH the law enforcement and court records are sealed, then the offense should not pop up in a background check. It is important to remember also that most employers search the Washington State Patrol records only when looking at your background.
The court will be the first to update its records. The Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will update their records once they receive the court order if they are ordered to do so. The Washington State Patrol will also notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which typically takes 30 to 45 days.