Legal Question in Criminal Law in Washington

can you get a felony conviction exponged from your record

Asked on 2/22/11, 8:14 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Paul Ferris Law Office of Paul T. Ferris

First, you need to specify what you mean when you use the term "expunge". In the courts, expunge means total destruction of records; there is no expunction of conviction records in Washington state, regardless of what post conviction relief was obtained. Only arrest records can be expunged and only under certain circumstances.

It is possible to "vacate" certain felonies. The applicable statute for you to review is RCW 9.94A.640. Once a conviction is vacated, the offender can state for all purposes that s/he has not been convicted of the offense and law enforcement agencies are prohibited from disclosing conviction information; however, anyone can still view the file in the clerk's office.

While there is a rule allowing the sealing of a conviction record, few courts will grant such relief. Even if sealed, the defendant's name and case number (which indicates felony) is still accessible. If not vacated, the original charge is disclosed; if vacated, the term "vacated" is disclosed .... and only convictions are vacated.

Be advised that vacating a felony conviction does not remove a firearm disability resulting from the conviction. There is a separate process for restoring gun rights.

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Answered on 2/22/11, 9:17 pm

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