If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, then it can often feel like your life is caving in on you. After a conviction, this feeling can intensify. Returning to life as normal with a conviction on your record can be difficult. Jobs are harder to come by, obtaining insurance can be difficult, and it can even be harder to give back to the community by volunteering. However, life does not need to stop for you after making a mistake—the state of Washington has attempted to make things easier for convicted criminals with a few pieces of legislation, one of the most prominent being the New Hope Act.
What Is the New Hope Act?
The New Hope Act was signed by Governor Inslee on May 9, 2019, and it officially went into effect on July 28, 2019. Generally speaking, the New Hope Act makes life a little bit easier for people with criminal convictions in their past to re-enter society. It accomplishes this goal in a couple of different ways. First, it changes some details about the mandatory waiting period. Prior to the Act, those hoping to clear their record needed to wait three to ten years after paying off all of the fines and fees associated with their conviction. This was a problem because those with convictions can struggle to obtain a job to pay those penalties. Now the clock starts as soon as you are released from prison.
In addition, as it relates to misdemeanors, the New Hope Act eliminates the “once in a lifetime” rule. Now, you may petition to have as many convictions as are eligible vacated. In addition, the rule prior to the Act was that you were forced to attempt to vacate the most recent conviction. Now, however, you may vacate the convictions of your choice. There are still certain limitations and mandatory waiting periods depending on the type of crime,
What Does Vacating a Conviction Mean?
If you have a conviction vacated, then the guilty finding is put aside and the associated charges are dismissed. Any penalties or roadblocks that you may have faced because of the conviction will also be released. The conviction will no longer be on your record, and further, you will be allowed to answer that you have not be convicted of the crime on job or housing applications. The conviction will still exist in the public records, but the wording will be changed from “guilty” to “vacated.”
Contact an Experienced Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney
First and foremost, it is important that you attack any criminal charges with the help of an experienced Seattle attorney before things reach the conviction stage. Steve Karimi has experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney and can use this experience in support of your case. However, even if you have already been convicted and are looking for legal assistance after your conviction, Steve Karimi can help you. For a free consultation with an experienced Seattle defense attorney, call 206-621-8777.