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Old 10-14-2006, 06:17 PM
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Default Washington DOC Guide on When and How to Challenge, Seal, Vacate or Expunge

A Guide on When and How to Challenge, Seal, Vacate or Expunge

https://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/c...oryRecords.pdf

This brochure provides information on the current state of the law regarding how to seal court records, how to vacate court records, and how to obtain the destruction or expungement of such records. You should be aware that the circumstances under which records may be vacated, destroyed or sealed are very limited. The power of judges to vacate, seal or expunge is limited by laws enacted by the legislature, court rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Washington and the Constitution. The term .criminal justice agency,. as used in this brochure, refers to courts, police agencies, probation departments, prisons and jails. All of these agencies maintain records on adults and juveniles who are arrested, detained, charged, convicted or acquitted. You have the legal right to inspect criminal history information or criminal record information that is about you. This brochure also includes information on how to challenge the records maintained by law enforcement agencies, if you think those records are inaccurate. The laws concerning criminal records and criminal history change frequently. You may wish to consult an attorney regarding your own circumstances. You should consult an attorney to find out if sealing, vacating or destroying an adult or juvenile court or law enforcement record will have an effect on either your right to own or possess a firearm or your immigration status.

GOVERNING STATUTES AND REGULATIONS
The following constitutional provisions, statutes and regulations, currently control requests for modification, vacation, sealing, or deletion of criminal records.
  • Washington Constitution Article I, Section 10
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.92.066
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.94A.640
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.95.240
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.96
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 10.97.060
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 13.50.050
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 43.43.730
  • General Rule (GR) 15 of the Washington Court Rules
  • Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 446-16-025 & 446-16-030
  • Local law enforcement agencies and courts may have additional procedural rules or regulations.
JUVENILE COURT RECORDS
If you were found guilty of an offense in juvenile court, you may ask the court to seal the records of conviction by filing a motion with the court. You must provide a copy of the motion (request) to seal the record to the prosecuting attorney. Notice to the Washington State Patrol is also advisable. You may also be required to notify the victim. Forms requesting that the court seal your juvenile record are available from the court or by calling the Administrative Office of the Courts at (360) 705-5328. The court may grant your request in cases where the sentence was announced after July 1, 1995, if:
  • your offense was not a sex offense or a Class A felony,
  • since you were last released from confinement, you have spent a specified
  • number of years in the community (five years for a Class B felony, two years
  • for a Class C felony, two years for a gross misdemeanor or a misdemeanor or
  • a diversion agreement) without committing any offense or crime that resulted in a conviction,
  • no proceedings are pending against you seeking the conviction of a juvenile
  • offense or a criminal offense,
  • no proceeding is pending against you seeking the formation of a diversion agreement,
  • you have paid all restitution.
Once your record is sealed, your case is treated as if it never occurred and you may state that you were not convicted of that offense. The records will be unsealed, however, if you are found guilty of a juvenile offense or a crime after the court granted your request to seal the record or if you are charged with a felony after the court has granted your request to seal the record. If you are 18 years old and your only criminal history is a single referral for juvenile diversion, you may request that the court destroy its record in the matter if two years have passed since your diversion was completed. If your only criminal history consists of more than one referral for diversion, you may request that the court destroy its records in the matters if you are at least 23 years old.

ADULT COURT RECORDS
Sealing or Destruction. There is currently no statute that would allow for destruction of a court record from a proceeding involving a criminal action against an adult. However, sealing may be ordered by the court when a conviction is vacated or for compelling reasons in the interests of justice.Vacating Felonies. RCW 9.92.066, 9.95.240 and 9.94A.640 allow for the vacating of some felony convictions. You may request, by motion, that the court vacate the conviction. Such a motion may only be granted if:
  • you have completed your sentence and you have been discharged,
  • there are no criminal charges pending against you in any court of this state, or another state, or in any federal court,
  • your conviction was for a nonviolent offense,
  • since you were issued a discharge, you have spent a specified numbers of years in the community (10 years for a Class B felony, five years for a Class C felony, three years for a gross misdemeanor, two years for a misdemeanor or diversion) without committing any offense or crime that resulted in a criminal conviction.
COURT RECORDS
Court records are maintained by the clerk of each separate court. A court can only address requests made concerning records of cases filed in that court. If you were charged with crimes in several different courts, you will need to make your request to each separate court. Court records consist of the documents filed by the prosecutor, you or your attorney, court orders and some probation reports. If you were convicted of a crime, the court record will contain a disposition order or judgment and sentence that will specify what crimes you were found to have committed and what punishment was imposed. If you were acquitted of charges, the court record will indicate that the action was dismissed. A record of dismissal will also be present if the court determined that the charges should not go forward. Criminal court records, like court hearings, are generally open to the public. Whether a court record of conviction may be vacated, sealed, or destroyed depends upon the type of conviction (felony or misdemeanor), and the court where the conviction was obtained (juvenile or adult). The vacating, sealing, or destroying of a court record does not necessarily change or delete the records maintained by law enforcement agencies, the Department of Licensing or other government agencies. Requests to change or delete records maintained by other agencies should be made to that agency. Administrative Office of the Courts

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Washington State Court Internet Site: http://www.courts.wa.gov This site includes a statewide directory of courts, including addresses and telephone numbers, court rules, the most current version of this brochure, forms and information about assistance with legal research from the state law library. The Administrative Office of the Courts may also be reached at (360) 357-2130. Please note that this office cannot offer any legal advice.

Office of the Code Reviser: http://slc.leg.wa.gov This internet site contains the complete Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). Also check your local library for copies of the RCW and the WAC.
  • Washington State Patrol Identification and Criminal History Section: www.wa.gov/wsp/crime/crimhist.htm
  • Check the website or call (360) 705-5100 for information about criminal record history information maintained by the WSP.
  • Washington State Bar Association: www.wsba.org
  • Check the website or call (206) 727-8200 for information on how to find an attorney in your area (or contact your local county bar association).
  • For more information on your court record, contact the specific city or county court where the case was filed. This may be a municipal, district, superior or juvenile court.
  • For more information on your police record, contact the local police agency that was responsible for the case. This may be a city police department, county sheriff.s office, the WSP or other agency with police powers.
GLOSSARY
ADVERSE TO THE DEFENDANT
Referring to conviction information, any disposition of charges, except a decision not to prosecute, a dismissal, an acquittal except when the acquittal is due to a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, or a dismissal due to the incompetency of the defendant. A dismissal following the successful completion of a deferred sentence is also adverse.

CHALLENGE
A claim that the records on file with a law enforcement agency do not accurately reflect the actions taken by the court. A challenge will not address whether the action taken by the court was proper or not. CONVICTION DATA: Criminal history record information relating to an incident which has led to a conviction or other disposition adverse to the subject.

CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD INFORMATION (CHRI)
Information contained in records collected by criminal justice agencies, other than courts, on individuals, consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, informations, or other formal criminal charges, and any disposition arising therefrom, including sentences, correctional supervision, and release.

DEFERRED SENTENCE
A sentence, the execution of which is postponed until a future time (considered as adverse to the defendant).

DEFERRED PROSECUTION
A person charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor which is the result of or caused by alcoholism, drug addiction or mental problems may petition a district or municipal court to attend a treatment program as an alternative to punishment.

DISMISSAL
A dismissal is a court order terminating the case. A dismissal may occur before a finding or plea of guilty, or after a period of probation, suspension, or deferral of sentence.

DISPOSITION
The formal conclusion of a criminal proceeding at whatever stage it occurs in the criminal justice system.

DISSEMINATION
Disclosing criminal history record information to any person or agency outside the agency possessing the information. EXPUNGE: To physically destroy information . including criminal records in files, computers, or other depositories. A motion or order to expunge shall be treated as a motion or order to destroy. FELONY: The offense classification designating the more severe crimes. For purposes of sentencing, classified felonies are designated as one of three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C, with Class A felonies subject to the longest terms of confinement.

FINAL DISCHARGE
Defendant has completed the requirements of his/ her sentence and has received a final discharge from confinement or supervision and may also have some civil rights restored.

JUVENILE OFFENDER
An individual who is under the age of eighteen years (and who has not been previously transferred to adult court) and has been found by the juvenile court to have committed an offense. This also includes persons eighteen years of age or older over whom jurisdiction has been extended.

MISDEMEANOR
A misdemeanor is an offense generally punishable by no more than $1000 and 90 days in jail; a gross misdemeanor is an offense punishable by no more than $5000 and 365 days in jail. Misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors may be filed in either courts of limited jurisdiction (district or municipal courts) or superior court.

MODIFY
To change or revise the existing information.

NON-CONVICTION DATA
All criminal history record information relating to an incident which has not led to the conviction or other disposition adverse to the subject, and for which proceedings are no longer actively pending more than one year since arrest, citation, charge, or service of warrant with no disposition entered.

RAPSHEET
Transcript of criminal history record information.

SEAL
To seal means to protect from examination by the public and unauthorzed court personnel. An entire record may be sealed or parts of a record may be sealed. Evidence of the existence of a sealed file, unless protected by statute, is available for viewing by the public on court indices, but is limited to the case number, names of the parties, the notation .case sealed,. the case type in civil cases and the cause of action or charge in criminal cases. (See, also, Vacating of Record of Conviction below.) A sealed court record may be ordered unsealed under certain circumstances.

SUSPENDED SENTENCE
Execution of the sentence has been withheld by the court based on certain terms and conditions (considered as adverse to the defendant).

VACATING OF RECORD OF CONVICTION
An offender mayapply to the sentencing court to set aside a conviction. The court may clear the record of conviction and the fact that the offender has been convicted of the offense shall not be included in the offender.s criminal history record. In cases where a criminal conviction has been vacated or ordered sealed, the information in the public court indices shall be limited to the case number, case type, the adult or juvenile.s name, and the notation .vacated..
LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS
You have the right to inspect the criminal history record information (CHRI) on file with the Washington State Patrol (WSP) or a local police agency. Requests to inspect the CHRI must comply with the local police agency.s or the WSP.s rules.

Such information includes reports of investigations, records of arrests, and identification information obtained from adults and juveniles who are arrested for offenses. Local police agencies are required by state statute to send a fingerprint arrest card to the WSP on all adults and many juveniles arrested for the commission of a felony or gross misdemeanor. On serious offenses, fingerprints are also sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A record of the disposition of the case is also sent to the FBI and the WSP. A report of an individual.s arrest record, as maintained by the WSP or FBI, is frequently called a .rapsheet..
Whether information contained on a rapsheet or in a law enforcement agency.s files may be modified, vacated or expunged depends upon whether the result of the case was a conviction or acquittal, and the court where the case was heard (juvenile or adult). The vacating, sealing, or expungement of a law enforcement record does not necessarily change or delete the records maintained by the courts. Requests to change or delete court records must be made to that particular court.

CHALLENGES FOR ACCURACY
You must make any challenge to the accuracy or completeness of the CHRI in writing, clearly identifying the information which you feel is inaccurate or incomplete. If the agency refuses to change the information, you may appeal that decision to the head of the agency that created the record.

DELETION OR EXPUNGEMENT
You may request deletion or expungement of CHRI in the WSP if: (1) the file consists only of non-conviction data; (2) you are not under prosecution and you have not been arrested for or charged with a new crime; and either (3a) two years or longer has elapsed since the record became nonconviction data as a result of the entry of a disposition favorable to you, or (3b) three years or longer have elapsed from the date of arrest or filing of charges and you are not a fugitive and the case is not still pending in court. Information regarding how to make a request for deletion or expungement of criminal record information may be obtained from the WSP. Following the WSP.s procedure will not delete or expunge CHRI in the possession of a local police agency. A separate request must be made to the local (arresting) police agency in accordance with that agency.s procedure.You may not obtain the deletion or expungement of a record related to a case that resulted in a conviction or other disposition adverse to you. Examples of dispositions that are adverse to you include the entry of an order to dismiss entered after the successful completion of a period of probation, suspension, or deferral of sentence. However, when the superior court has vacated your felony conviction, the public will not have access to information about the conviction in your CHRI.

JUVENILE RECORDS
A court order to seal a juvenile record may also result in the removal of all reference to the arrest incident and disposition from the records maintained by the WSP, but identifying information held by the WSP is not subject to sealing or destruction. Identifying information includes fingerprints, palmprints, soleprints, toeprints, and any other data that identifies you by physical characteristics, name, birthdate or address. The documents related to the arrest and disposition named in the court order are sealed in an envelope. The envelope is not opened unless the WSP is ordered to do so by a court or if you are later arrested for a felony or are found guilty of a crime or juvenile offense. Vacating Misdemeanors. RCW Chapter 9.96 authorizes the court to vacate misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions. You may request by motion that the court vacate your conviction if at least three years have elapsed since the completion of your sentence, including any period of probation (five for domestic violence convictions) and:
  • You have no pending criminal charges or new convictions.
  • Your offense was not violent as defined by RCW 9.94A.030 or an attempt at such an offense.
  • The offense did not involve driving while intoxicated or a related offense.
  • The offense was not a sex offense.
  • You have satisfied all conditions of your sentence.
  • You have not had another conviction vacated.
  • You have not been the subject of a protection, no-contact or restraining order within the last five years.
Forms requesting that the court vacate your misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor conviction may be obtained from the court or from the Administrative Office of the Courts at (360) 705- 5328. There are no forms available for the purpose of requesting that the court vacate your felony conviction. You may wish to consult an attorney for further assistance with regard to the vacation of a felony conviction.

Effect of Vacating Conviction. Once the court vacates the record of conviction, you may state that you have never been convicted of that crime. However, when the court vacates the record of conviction, the court file is not destroyed. If you received a deferred sentence and successfully completed probation, you may need to file a motion with the court for dismissal.

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Old 10-22-2009, 03:37 PM
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Step-by-Step Guide
The following is a step-by-step guide to vacating and sealing your criminal history records.

Step 1: Obtain a Personal Criminal History Check

In many cases, your local prosecutor and your employer will be satisfied that you have no new
arrests on your record if you obtain an "unofficial" copy of your criminal history background
report through the WSP on the Internet at the following website: https://watch.wsp.wa.gov. This
service costs $10 per search and requires a credit card.

If the WATCH printout does not satisfy the prosecutor or employer, then you should go to your
local law enforcement office (police or sheriff) and have them fingerprint you and provide you
with TWO official fingerprint cards.

Next, write the Washington State Patrol ("WSP") to request that they send you an official copy
of your personal criminal history background (sometimes referred to as a "fingerprint
search"). Explain that you are making this request in connection with your motion to
vacate/seal criminal history records. Include one of the official fingerprint cards (NOT a copy)
and a $25 money order and send everything to:

Criminal History Section
Washington State Patrol
PO Box 42633
Olympia WA 98504-2633

It can take up to 8 weeks or more for the WSP to process your request. If you have not received
the report within 8 weeks of your mailing, you should call the WSP at 360.705.5100 to inquire as
to the status of your request.

Step 2: Obtain Court Documents

Go to the court in which you were convicted and obtain a copy of the following documents from
the court file:

1. A copy of your Certificate and Order of Discharge. This document should have been
filed in the criminal case file at the time all sentencing conditions including payment of
legal financial obligations were completed. Ask the court clerk how to look up the file
for your case. Some courts have on-line dockets so you can find out what date a
Certificate and Order of Discharge was entered. The Order may have been given to you
in person or mailed to you, but often these Orders are mailed to an out-of-date address.
Because your ability to vacate a conviction is based on the date the Order of Discharge
was issued, you will NOT be able to vacate your conviction until an Order of Discharge
has been issued. It is possible to petition for a Certificate and Order of Discharge (RCW
9.94A.637) if you don't already have one or you may need to contact a private attorney.
If you are low income and live outside King County, you may call Northwest Justice
Project’s CLEAR line at 1-888-201-1014 (King County low-income clients may call 206-
464-1519) for advice or a possible referral.

2. A copy of your Judgment and Sentence.
The files with these documents may be in the court's archives and thus your request may take
several weeks to process. There may be charges for copying these documents.

Step 3: Draft Your Declaration to Support Your Motion to Vacate Conviction
Record


NOTE: It is preferred that any documents you prepare for the court are TYPED and NOT
handwritten. If typing is not possible, then be sure that the penmanship is clear and easy to read.
In your Declaration, you are stating the information necessary to meet the "Basic
Requirements" for a Vacate Motion noted above.
Attached is a "Declaration of Defendant . . ." form that you may use.
You should also attach all court/other documents related to your declaration. It is important that
you only attach documents to your Vacate Motion and Sealing Motion. DO NOT attach
documents to the Sealing Order because that document will remain public.

Step 4: Draft the Motion to Vacate Conviction Record and Draft a Separate
Motion to Seal Court File


Complete the attached "Defendant's Motion for Order Vacating. . ." form.
Also complete the attached separate "Defendant's Motion for Order Sealing Court File" form. It
is important that the Vacate Motion be separate from the Sealing Motion. Also the Vacate Order
4 See RCW 9.94A.637(1).

and the Sealing Order must be separate documents, and the Sealing Motion must be a separate
document from the Sealing Order.

Step 5: Contact the Prosecutor's Office/Victim's Information

At some point early on, well before scheduling your court hearing, you should contact the
prosecutor's office that was involved in your case. Explain what you are doing and ask for the
name of the prosecutor in their office who handles such matters. Then send the motion,
declaration, Judgment and Sentence, and Certificate and Order of Discharge to the prosecutor
and ask if they will agree to a Vacate and Seal Order because you have proven that you meet the
requirements.

You may learn that the particular prosecutor's office does not require the formality of a court
hearing for a Vacate Motion and will agree to sign off on an "Agreed Order" if you provide them
with sufficient proof you have satisfied the statutory requirements. (See the section below
regarding the "Order to Vacate . . ." in Step 9 for more information.)

However, often the prosecutor will require that you schedule and attend a hearing before the
judge. If so, you must properly notify the prosecutor of the hearing by following applicable court
rules (see below). As of January 2007, most prosecutors require that you schedule and attend a
hearing if you are asking to seal the court file, even if the prosecutor will agree to a Vacate
Order.

Step 6: Schedule Hearing Date/Notice of Hearing

When you have all your papers in order and are essentially ready to go to court, contact the Court
Clerk and find out which court/judge will hear your motion and on what day of the week/time it
can be heard. You should plan to schedule your hearing 3-4 weeks in advance, and verify with
the Clerk that there are no conflicts around this time.

Also, verify with the Clerk whether there is a special form that you must use to note the
time/date of the hearing. If not, you may use the attached "Notice of Hearing re Motion for
Order . . ." form.

Finally, verify with the court whether there is a fee for this type of motion. At least some courts
do not require a fee as you are filing the motion under the original case number. Some courts
charge an "ex parte fee" for an agreed order where there is no hearing. If the clerk believes a fee
applies, ask that they verify this with their supervisor and/or the court's accounting department.

Step 7: Copy/File/Serve the Documents

Make copies of all your documents so that you have THREE complete sets – one original and
two copies. You may also need at least TWO additional copies of your "Notice of Hearing".
Go to the Clerk's office and file the originals – the "Motion" (with attachments), the
"Declaration" (with attachments), and the "Notice of Hearing" – and pay any applicable fee.
Also, have them date stamp one set of your documents (the first page of each document in the
set).

Then, go directly to the prosecutor's office and hand a copy of your documents – the "Motion",
"Declaration", and "Notice of Hearing" to an employee of the prosecutor's office. Have this
person date stamp the set of documents that was previously stamped by the Court Clerk. Also,
make sure that the person who receives the documents understands that there is a notice
regarding a hearing that will happen very soon and the documents should immediately be given
to a prosecutor.

If there were any identifiable victims of your crime, write the prosecuting attorney a letter
requesting that they send notice of the hearing to each victim and include a copy of the "Notice
of Hearing" and an envelope with sufficient postage for this purpose.

Step 8: Declaration of Service

Complete the attached "Declaration of Service" form with information on HOW you sent
WHAT papers to WHOM and WHEN.
Make FOUR copies, file the original with the Court Clerk some time before your hearing, have
one of your copies date stamped by the clerk and bring the three copies with you to the hearing –
one for yourself (the date stamped copy), one for the prosecutor and one for the judge.

Step 9: Prepare for & Attend the Hearing/Obtain an Order

Fill in the attached "Order to Vacate" and "Order to Seal . . ." – everything except where the
judge and prosecutor signs/dates it. If the prosecutor decides to sign off on your order, check the
box under the heading next to "AGREED ORDER" and have the prosecutor sign it at the end.

Sometimes the prosecutor will agree to present an Agreed Order to the judge and ask the judge to
sign it. If not, make THREE copies of your proposed Order and bring them to the hearing.
If you are making a Motion to Seal the court file, you may wish to present witnesses in support
of your motion. Witnesses may be helpful if they have personal knowledge about how your life
has been harmed by disclosure of your criminal record in background checks.

Prepare for the hearing by writing a brief outline of what you intend to say to the court. Your
outline should follow the following format:

1. Brief introduction. Introduce yourself, thank the court for allowing you to be heard, and
explain why you are there – i.e., bringing a motion to vacate criminal history records and
seal the court file.
2. Briefly state that you have satisfied all of RCW 9.94A.640's statutory requirements.
a) Your offense was committed ON/AFTER July 1, 1984;
b) There are NO pending criminal charges against you anywhere;
c) You have NOT been convicted of a new crime in any state or federal court since your
discharge;
d) You were convicted of a class B felony and over 10 YEARS have passed since your
discharge, or you were convicted of a class C felony and over 5 YEARS have passed
since your discharge; AND
e) The offense involved was NOT a "violent crime" under RCW 9.94A.030(48), or a
"crime against persons" under RCW 43.43.830(5).
3. Briefly state that you have satisfied all of the procedural requirements under General
Rule (GR) 15 by serving proper notice of the hearing.
4. Present a copy of your proposed orders to the prosecution and to the judge. Explain that
your proposed orders tracks the language in RCW 9.94A.640 and General Rule 15.
5. Ask the court if it has any questions and, if so, answer them to the best of your ability.
Attend the hearing. Bring at least TWO extra copies of your documents (THREE copies of
your "Declaration of Service" and "Order to Vacate ..." and "Order to Seal . . ."), which
includes the copy that was date stamped by the court and the prosecutor.
1. Be 30 minutes early.
2. Dress neatly, as if you were going to a job interview.
3. Do NOT bring your children, if at all possible.
4. Check in with the clerk of the judge's courtroom.
5. Try to find the prosecutor and go over any last minute details with him or her before the
hearing.
6. When your case is called, walk up to the table or podium for lawyers in front of the
judge and wait to be instructed by the judge to speak. Follow your prepared outline.
7. Remember to speak only to the judge and only when it is your turn. Do NOT interrupt the
judge or speak to the prosecutor, even if they interrupt or speak to you. You want to appear
polite and reasonable. Staying calm will impress the judge. If you are confused or do not
understand something, politely tell the judge so and ask for clarification.
If the judge grants and signs your orders, ask that either the judge or courtroom clerk give the
orders to you so that you may go to the Court Clerk's office to file it and obtain FIVE copies of
the orders: be sure that the orders have the court’s file stamp on them or the Washington
State Patrol will not accept it. There will be a charge for this service.

Step 10: Send the orders to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) & Other
Agencies


Fill in and sign the attached letter to the WSP requesting that they cease disseminating all
information regarding your conviction to the public. The letter also requests that they forward
this information to any other relevant agencies, including the Department of Corrections, local
law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for the purpose of those agencies
all ceasing public dissemination of the conviction record. You MUST enclose the copy of your
signed order that you obtained from the Court Clerk after your hearing.

Mail this letter to the WSP at the same address to which you sent your criminal history report
request. You should send this letter with delivery confirmation requested – NOT by certified
mail – as you are sending it to a P.O. Box and no one is there to personally accept delivery.

After a few weeks have passed, call the WSP to ensure that they have received the order and are
processing your request.

Approximately ninety days after the Vacate Order was obtained, you should confirm that your
criminal history record with the WSP is up-to-date and correct. You can do this by ordering a
new official and/or unofficial copy of your criminal history report.

Be prepared for the possibility that your criminal history information may have found its way
into databases other than the WSP's. Consequently, you should also contact the FBI, local law
enforcement, the Department of Corrections, Department of Licensing and other relevant
agencies to request that their records concerning information be sealed from public
dissemination. It is also possible that a private data company has your conviction record. You
may want to ask that the agencies inform any private company that has obtained the record from
the agency in the past that they must update their records and stop disseminating it in light of the
vacate and seal order. You may need to send any of these agencies or private companies a courtstamped copy of your order. You should also keep a court-stamped copy of your order ready to present if someone like a prospective employer gets negative information from some other source. If you find out that the FBI, DOC or any other agency or private company are still
making disclosures about your record, contact the WSP and the court to make sure that they have
taken all necessary steps to implement the vacate and seal order.

Note that a Washington law enforcement agency is required to report accurate and complete
criminal history information. No such agency may report criminal history information
concerning a felony without checking with the WSP to verify the most current and complete
information available.5 Moreover, should such an agency violate these requirements, it may be
possible to bring a lawsuit forcing the agency to act in a certain way or for damages, which could
be significant if, for example, you were to lose a job opportunity because of their mistake.6 If
your lawsuit asks that the agency act in a certain way, you may be able to recover attorney's fees.

Finally, violations of these requirements are considered a criminal misdemeanor and thus can
subject members of such an agency to criminal liability.7

You should also be aware that if you did not ask for an order sealing the court file, or if you
asked and a sealing order was denied, the court file remains open to the public. This means that
a background check may still reveal your conviction if the person conducting the background
check looks at the court file. Additionally, it is important to remember that even after a motion
to seal the court file is granted, the sealing order and the reason for it remain public. It is unclear
whether the docket also remains public.

Other Resources

Washington State Court Internet Site: http://www.courts.wa.gov. This site includes a
statewide directory of courts, including address/numbers. The site also includes a variety of
legal information and forms, including:
5 See RCW 10.97.040.
6
See RCW 10.97.110.
7 See RCW 10.97.120.

1. Criminal History and Criminal Records: A Guide on When and How to Challenge,
Seal, Vacate or Expunge, written by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
This publication includes information on juvenile and adult criminal history court and
law enforcement records, and can also be obtained by calling AOC directly at
360.705.5328.
2. Forms used to seal Juvenile Court Records.
3. Forms and instructions used to vacate/seal Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor
Conviction Court Records.
4. Forms for petitioning for a Certificate and Order of Discharge.
CLEAR (Northwest Justice Project): If you are low-income, additional legal advice is
available by calling the Northwest Justice Project's Coordinated Legal Education Advice and
Referral (CLEAR) program at 1.888.201.1014. In addition, legal publications covering a broad
range of legal topics are available at www.washingtonlawhelp.org.
9910EN
This publication provides general information concerning your rights and
responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of the date of its printing, June 2009.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to
individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)
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Court Forms: Vacating/Sealing Records

http://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=f...bute&formID=38
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