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Sealing an Adult Criminal Record in Washington

Posted by Steve Karimi | May 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Washington State General Rule 15 provides for sealing or redacting of criminal record where a conviction has been vacated. Though existing rules for vacating of criminal record do not universally provide for the destruction of court records in an adult criminal conviction, a court may decide to that privacy or safety concerns outweigh the public interest. Petition for the destruction of court records in civil matters is affirmed if it is determined by the court that express statutory authority permits. The legal effect of full “sealing” a criminal arrest or conviction record erases a legal matter from record, restricting law enforcement and public database access at the state and federal level.

Vacating Misdemeanor Records

Defendants convicted of misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors in Washington who have completed a sentence are eligible to petition for a vacation of conviction with the courts. Washington law, chapter RCW 9.96.060, authorizes a court to vacate a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor conviction meeting the following criteria.

  • A sentence is completed, including payment of fines, penalties and restitution, and three or more years have lapsed since the date of completion.
  • There are no pending criminal charges, and an offender has not been convicted of new charges in federal or state court.
  • There is no preceding conviction vacated on record.
  • There is no record of a domestic violence protection order, no-contact order, civil restraining order, or anti-harassment order in the past five years.

Ineligibility for consideration of vacating a record may be present if the following criteria exist.

  • An attempted or commission of an offense was found by the convicting court to be “violent” as defined by RCW 9.94A.030.
  • In violation of DUI (“driving under the influence) law RCW 46.61.502 and there is has been subsequent alcohol or drug-related convicted case and less than ten years have elapsed since the date of the arrest.
  • An attempted violation, or violation of chapter 9.68 RCW, chapter 9.68A RCW, or chapter 9A.44 RCW sex crime conviction.
  • Any domestic violence matter described under chapter RCW 9.96.060(2)(e).

Vacating Felony Records

Washington law, chapter RCW 9.94A.640, provides for court determination of petitions for the vacating of felony convictions where a case has been discharged. Criminal convictions ineligible for the sealing of record by a court include the following.

  • Cases with pending criminal charges against the offender in federal or state court.
  • Violent offense convictions defined under chapter RCW 9.94A.030 or RCW 43.43.830.
  • The petitioner has been convicted of a new offense by a federal or state court since discharge of the original case.
  • Class B felonies with less than 10 years from discharge.
  • Class C felonies RCW 46.61.502(6) or RCW 46.61.504(6).
  • Class C felonies with less than 5 years from discharge not described under chapter RCW 46.61.502(6) or RCW 46.61.504(6).

Criminal records not sealed by the court remain accessible to the public and may be used for purposes of prosecution in a future case. To file a petition for vacating criminal record in Washington, contact Karimi Law Firm today at (206) 621-8777.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

Seattle Defense Lawyer

Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.