At Milios Defense, we have been helping clients expunge, vacate, delete, and seal unwanted and damaging criminal history records for over 25 years. There are literally thousands of people in Washington State who have criminal backgrounds and who are currently eligible to have those records removed. This page gives a brief overview of the procedures at your disposal to erase that history and move forward. Each procedure is explained in more detail on subsequent pages.
If you are interested in learning more, consulting to determine your eligibility, or simply want us to handle the process for you, contact us at your convenience. Consultations on this subject are always free in order to help you determine the best way to move forward.
Vacating Criminal Conviction Records
The most common, and generally simplest way of removing a criminal record is by vacating the conviction. This process entails sending a petition to the sentencing court asking it to allow the guilty plea or verdict be set aside, a not guilty plea be entered and then the case itself dismissed. Not all convictions can be vacated and there are rules as to how and when a record vacation can be granted. These rules differ based upon the type of conviction one wishes to vacate. Felonies, misdemeanors, DUI, and domestic violence related convictions all have special rules attached to their vacation. The benefit of vacating a conviction is that it restores your ability to legally say that you were not convicted of that crime as well as removing the conviction from your official record. Anyone who has a criminal conviction that is over two years old should at least look into whether the conviction can be vacated, and if so, when.
Deleting Non-Conviction Data
Washington law allows that in certain circumstances, when a charge or an arrest does not result in a conviction, that the “non-conviction” data can be deleted from the system entirely. Charges that ultimately lead to a conviction, deferred sentences, and certain dismissals based upon dispositional continuances, don’t qualify for deletion under this statute. There are, however, many situations that do. If you were arrested for a charge that was either never filed or ultimately dismissed and it has been over two years, you may qualify to have that record deleted.
Depending on the circumstances, juvenile criminal records can be either vacated, sealed, or sometimes even destroyed. The waiting period for taking action to repair juvenile history is generally not as long as it is to deal with adult criminal history. And the longer one waits, the more things that can happen in the interim that may affect one’s ability to remove juvenile history. The time for looking into when a juvenile record can be vacated, sealed, or destroyed is really while the juvenile case is pending. Before resolving a juvenile case, you’ll want to know as best you can how long it will remain as part that person’s criminal history.
The process of sealing non-juvenile criminal history information is much more difficult and complex than vacating a record of conviction or deleting non-conviction data. To be sure, the first step in sealing or destroying criminal history information is to make sure that the conviction is vacated. Beyond that, there is a multi-step process that involves notice to potentially interested parties, briefing, argument, and ultimately convincing a court that your privacy interest in sealing the record outweighs the public’s interest in keeping the information available.
Restoration of Civil Rights
Apart from erasing or expunging criminal history, often people are simply interested in restoring certain rights or liberties that the criminal conviction had taken away. Possession of firearms, voting, drivers licensing, traveling to Canada, or being able to freely move about the country from state to state are but a few such interests.
The old adage, “you never know unless you ask” certainly applies to the removal of criminal history conviction information. If you have any questions as to what relief you may be entitled to, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. Usually a quick look at the history information that is in the system will let us know if and how you should proceed.