“This bill makes it easier for people to clear their record when people have truly turned their lives around.” ~Representative Drew Hansen
Also, Rep. Morgan Irwin, a Republican from Enumclaw co-sponsoring the legislation, said the proposed law would give an incentive for people to stay out of the criminal justice system.
“This is about giving people that have… made that mistake a reason to not make another one,” Irwin said at a recent legislative hearing.
According to the Stranger staff reporter Lester Black, the bill would not automatically clear anyone’s criminal record. People would still need to get a judge’s approval for each conviction to be vacated, but the bill would make it easier for people to go through the process and expand the types of criminal convictions that are eligible to be removed from people’s records.
Some serious crimes such as second-degree burglary and assault would now be eligible under the proposed law. There is also no official estimate for how many people could take advantage of vacating convictions, according to a financial statement attached to the bill.
King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg also spoke in favor of the legislation, noting that the “collateral consequences” a person experiences from a conviction have nothing to do with public safety. Satterberg emphasized that people would still need to convince a judge to vacate their record.
“This is a reward for highly motivated people,” Satterberg said. “We shouldn’t stand in their way, we should encourage that.”
My opinion? This legislation is a step in the right direction. Convictions are crippling. This type of data limits career opportunities, prevents housing, prevents travel and may be used as impeachment evidence should the convicted offender testify in a court hearing.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.