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SEALING ARREST RECORDS IN WASHINGTON
An Arrest Shouldn't Follow You For the Rest of Your Life
Having a criminal record of any type makes life more difficult. It doesn’t take a conviction to cause problems. Record sealing in Washington refers to the sealing of arrest records from incidents that resulted in a non-conviction. Whenever your arrested, an arrest record is created, regardless of whether you’re found guilty. It doesn’t matter if you were innocent of the crime, your arrest record will always be accessible by the public unless you successfully seal it.
A conviction is obviously worse than an arrest resulting in a non-conviction, but current Washington law often makes sealing an arrest more difficult than vacating a conviction. This doesn’t seem very logical, but the Washington Constitution generally favors access to public records over privacy. In addition to the courts, the Washington State Patrol is the primary criminal justice agency that stores arrest records in Washington.
There are two types of arrest record sealing in Washington:
- Sealing your Arrest Records held by the Courts,
- Requesting that the Washington State Patrol delete your arrest records.
Sealing your arrest records with the courts at this moment is incredibly difficult, and our firm does not handle these types of cases. Having your arrest records sealed or deleted by the Washington State Patrol can also be difficult, but our firm has successfully done so many times.
This Information Is For You
Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.
You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our Secure Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.
Can You Seal Your Arrest Record?
Many arrest records maintained by the Washington State Patrol can be sealed and deleted. The general requirements under Washington law to seal your record through RCW 10.97.060 are essentially that your criminal record must not involve a finding of guilt or conviction, and that enough time has passed since the incident. Examples of where there has not been a finding of guilt include:
- You were found not guilty or acquitted
- You were never charged with a crime after arrest
- A grand jury returned a no-bill
- Your conviction was overturned on appear or
- Your charges were dismissed.
How Long Do You Have To Wait?
If charges were never filed, you must wait three years to request the Washington State Patrol to delete your arrest information. If charges were filed, you must wait two years from when you were acquitted, your charges were dismissed, your conviction was overturned on appeal, or a grand jury returned a no-bill.
Can the Washington State Police Refuse to Seal Your Records?
Unfortunately, current Washington law allows the Washington State Patrol to refuse to seal and delete your criminal records in several situations, and, in our firm’s experience, they refuse to seal arrest records whenever they may.
The Washington State Patrol may refuse to seal and delete your records if any of the following are true:
- Your charges were dismissed due to deferred prosecution or a similar diversion program
- You have a prior felony or gross misdemeanor conviction on your record or
- You’ve been arrested or charged with another crime since the arrest that you’re trying to seal.
Legal Effect Of Sealing Your Arrest Record
How Will Sealing My Arrest Record Help Me Get a Job?
Sealing your arrest with the Washington State Patrol will help with background checks that are run via the Washington State Patrol, but will be less useful for background checks that use actual court records. The Washington State Patrol is in charge of administering Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) reports, which are publicly available to anybody
Many employers in Washington use WATCH because it is statewide, comprehensive, and easy to access. This service will help you with this type of background check, so there certainly is value in sealing arrest records with the Washington State Patrol. It all depends on what type of background check the employer is using, which is hard to know ahead of time.
Will Sealing My Conviction Restore My Second Amendment Rights?
Unfortunately, sealing a record in Washington will have no effect on restoring your Second Amendment right to own a gun, as an arrest alone can almost never restrict your firearm rights.
What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Record
If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind. Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals. Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.
Some of the Potential Benefits of Sealing Your Arrest Record in Washington Include:
- Removing a finding of guilt and closing the case on your criminal record to help you get a better job
- Restoring your Second Amendment Rights to own a firearm
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs
- Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities
- Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
We Are Here to Help
Each of Washington's methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances. To move forward, it’s important to determine what Washington criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of Washington criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a Washington criminal record.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all Washington state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!