In Washington State, expungement makes it possible to seal or destroy the criminal records of a person who was arrested for but not convicted of a crime. Government and background-check databases may still list a crime in your file even if you were not found guilty of committing it. If you qualify for it, expungement will remove the crime from your record in these databases.
Who can request expungement in Washington State?
If you want to request expungement, the following must be true:
- You never plead guilty to the crime you were arrested for.
- You don’t currently have charges pending against you in state or federal court.
- Two years have passed since either your case was dismissed or you were acquitted of the crime.
- Three or more years have passed since the day you were arrested or the case was filed.
- You are not a fugitive and a case against you is not still pending in court.
Requesting expungement in Washington State
If expungement is possible in your situation, all the information proving eligibility must be given to the court. The rules for this process vary; you may need to provide documentation about the arrest and information about why you were not convicted of the crime. It’s best to check with the court clerk about the process, or find an attorney from your jurisdiction. After that, these general steps apply:
- If possible, get the expungement document, or Order Expunging your criminal record, from the court.
- Notify the arresting agency (the police or sherrif’s department that originally arrested you for the crime) of the court order.
- Ask the court clerk to forward a copy of the order to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
On average, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to get the expungement order. After that, it takes 8 to 12 weeks to remove the criminal record from government and background-check databases.
What expungement may cost
Courts do not charge for the expungement process. If you hire an attorney, you will be charged for his or her services. Attorneys’ fees depend on their experience and areas of expertise.