A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in Washington, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record. Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take. 1) Expunge Your Record 2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your RecordThe problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what Washington offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.
If you get your record expunged in Washington it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.
Sealing your record in Washington is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.
If you receive a pardon in Washington, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.
Things to Know Before You Start
First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in Washington.
Felony Expungement in Washington
No, it is not possible to expunge your felony in Washington.
Sealing a Record in Washington
Yes, it is possible to seal your record in Washington but it depends on the felony.
Getting a Pardon in Washington
Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in Washington but it depends on the felony.
Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options. The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.
Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action. We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process. Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again. In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think. The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing off your record.
Can You Expunge a Felony in Washington?
Current Washington law does not allow for expunging the court record of an adult that results in a conviction.
Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in Washington?
Only some felonies may be sealed in the state of Washington.
CANNOT SEAL IF…
You cannot apply to have your record vacated if you have pending criminal charges against you, in any state or federal court. Violent offense or crime against persons. You cannot apply to have your record vacation if your conviction was for a violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or a crime against persons as defined in RCW 43.43.830Convicted of a new crime. You cannot apply to have your felony record vacated if you have been convicted of a new crime in any state or federal court since discharge.Class B or C Felony. You cannot apply to have your record vacated if the offense is a class B felony and less than ten years have passed since discharge; the offense is a class C felony described in RCW 46.61.502(6) or RCW 46.61.504(6); or the offense is any class C felony, other than those described in RCW 46.61.502(6) or RCW 46.61.504(6), and less than five years have passed since discharge.
How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Washington
Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to seal your record. If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you. If you are not eligible to seal your record based on our test, then you should stop here.</li><li>If you are eligible to seal your record based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading. Go to the following website and download the appropriate form. Steps to apply to seal/vacate your felony record in Washington.
Step 1. Complete the Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Record of Felony Conviction.
Step 2. Schedule a hearing for the motion for order vacating record of felony conviction. To schedule a hearing, contact the clerk of the court where you were sentenced and ask for the date and time for the hearing, then complete the form that court uses to schedule a hearing.
Step 3. Make at least two copies of the notice. File the original motion and declaration for order vacating record of felony conviction and notice document. On the same day that you file those documents with the clerk of the court, you must also provide a copy of the documents to the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you. To notify the prosecuting attorney’s office of the hearing, you may also use a notice of hearing.
Step 4. The judge will hear your motion for order vacating record of felony conviction on the day scheduled for the hearing. You will need to attend the hearing. If the motion is granted, the judge will complete an order vacating the records of your felony conviction.
Can You Apply for a Pardon in Washington?
You can apply for a pardon any time after you have been convicted; in fact, you are eligible to apply for a Governor’s pardon even if you are still serving your sentence as a death row inmate.
CANNOT PARDON IF…
Out-of-state pardon? The Governor can only grant a pardon for a Washington conviction.
How to Apply for a Pardon in Washington
Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record. In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon. If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you. If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here. If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading. Go to the following website to download a pardon petition. Steps to apply for a pardon in Washington:
Step 1. Fill out the petition with your basic information. You can follow the instructions to complete your petition.
Step 2. You will need a copy of the Judgement and Sentence for every conviction you have had. If you do not remember all of the details of your convictions, you can get a Washington criminal history report.
Step 3. You will also be asked to list on the application the reasons for why the Governor should grant you a pardon. This may be the most important part of your application. We suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Board/Governor will not be retrying you for the offense.Although you may feel the need to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt. However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty. The Board/Governor is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.
Step 4. We also suggest that you submit a few letters of recommendation from credible people (such as your boss) who know you well and can say good things about you. These letters should indicate to what extent the writer knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon.The letters should also indicate the writer’s contact information for verification purposes.
Step 5. You will be required to sign a waiver/release form which would allow the Governor’s office to obtain your employment, medical, psychological, military, criminal, and financial records from other organizations or entities that may have them.
Step 6. Once the Governor’s office receives your application, a small committee of the Board will review your application and determine whether to hold a public hearing before the full Board.If a hearing is held on your application, the Board will notify the prosecuting attorney in the county where you were convicted at least thirty days before the hearing. The prosecuting attorney is then required to notify the victim, their family members, the witnesses, and the law enforcement agency who was involved in the case of the date and location of the hearing. These individuals will be given an opportunity to submit their written or oral opinions on your application. You should not only attend the hearing, but should look and act your best. The hearing is a good opportunity to put a human face onto your application; it not only lets the Board see you in person, but also lets the Board see the support you have in your community.You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board, the Governor’s office, and their agents at all times.
Step 7. After the hearing, the Board will decide whether to recommend you to the Governor for a pardon. The Governor has the final say on whether or not you receive a pardon.
So, there you have it. Three separate ways to get rid of your record in Washington. As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.
Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational. If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.