Vacating a Prior Criminal Conviction

Expungement and Vacating Criminal Records | The Curtis Firm, LLC

Washington law permits vacating a prior criminal conviction for misdemeanors. Unfortunately, the law does not automatically vacate your conviction. If you want your prior conviction vacated, the following information will assist you.


Defendants must meet the following criteria to convict their criminal convictions:

(1) The offender has completed all the terms of his or her sentence, including financial obligations, and more than 3-10 years have passed since completion (3 years for misdemeanors, 5 years for Class C felonies and 10 years for Class B felonies).

(2) There are no criminal charges pending against you in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal court.

(3) The Defendant has not been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal court since being sentenced.

(4) The Defendant has no record of another conviction vacated.

(5) The Defendant is not currently restrained, and have not been restrained within five years prior to the vacation application, by a No-Contact Order.

(6) The conviction sought to get vacated is not for one of the following crimes: Prostitution (with some exceptions), DUI, various Sex Offenses and/or Violent Felony Offenses. Some Domestic Violence crimes can be vacated, however.


If you can satisfy each of the requirements, your next step is to complete the proper forms.


You may want to review the court file or the court docket for the offense you are asking the court to vacate to obtain information you need to fill out the form. Some counties may require you to obtain copies of your criminal history records and attach them to your motion.

Read the local court rules or contact the clerk of the court where you will file your motion to find out if this requirement, or any other local requirement, applies to you. Once you have completed and signed the motion and declaration form and the attachment, if it applies, make at least two copies.


The next step is to schedule a hearing for the motion for order vacating conviction. To schedule a hearing, contact the clerk of the court where you were sentenced and ask for the date and time for the hearing. Then complete the form that court uses to schedule a hearing.


On the day of the scheduled hearing, the judge will hear your motion for order vacating conviction on the day scheduled for the hearing. You will need to be available to attend the hearing. If the motion is granted, the judge will complete an order vacating your conviction. The clerk of the court will send a copy of the order to the Washington State Patrol and to the local law enforcement agency, if any, which holds criminal history information about you.


Under statute, once the court vacates a conviction, the fact that the offender has been convicted of the offense shall NOT be included in the offender’s criminal history. And regarding employment applications, an offender whose conviction has been vacated may state that the offender has never been convicted of that crime.

Additional resources provided by attorney Alexander Ransom: