The biggest social drawback of having a felony record is that it is accessible through a routine background check. This means anyone can search and find out that you were convicted of a felony. A felony conviction can thus haunt you when trying to find employment, when applying to rent an apartment or house, when applying for educational aid, or for professional licenses. Your chosen career pathway may lie in becoming a professional pilot, teacher, electrician, plumber, nurse, real estate agent, or other profession but, with a felony record, you may not be able to obtain the license to do so.
Expungement provides a legal road out of this dilemma. When your record is expunged, it cannot be used against you. You can state to any future employer or other person that you were never convicted of the crime. The conviction is dismissed and cannot be held against you by any person, company, or agency. While it still remains on your record, it is retroactively dismissed. It can only be used by other criminal justice enforcement agencies. In Washington State, the official term is “vacating” the conviction.
The only way to have your felony conviction vacated is to obtain a Certificate of Discharge from the court. This can only be obtained if you meet eligibility requirements which involves completing all of the conditions of your sentence. You will have to provide proof that you have done so to the court. In some cases, you can request a waiver for not having completed a non-legal financial requirement of your sentence for “good cause.” The court has discretion in determining what good cause consists of and in its final determination of whether to vacate your conviction or not.
What Felonies Cannot Be Expunged?
Certain felonies are not eligible for expungement. These include those involving the use of a deadly weapon, such as a firearm, a sexually-motivated crime, or an assault against a police officer. You also are not eligible if you are facing new criminal charges in any court or the conviction was for a violent crime such as felony DUI, rape, manslaughter, and murder as well as for crimes against children.
Requirements for Expungement
Requirements for the expungement of a felony conviction include:
- For Class C felonies, you are required to wait five years from the date of your sentencing, release from incarceration, or release from probation, whichever occurred last. During those five years you must not have incurred any new convictions.
- For Class B felonies, you are required to wait 10 years from the date of your sentencing or release from incarceration or probation, whichever occurred last and also must not have any new convictions.
- You are required to have complied with all conditions of your sentencing including financial obligations, community service hours, treatment programs, and anything else imposed by the court.
- You must not have any pending criminal charges filed against from any other court.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer at Hester Law Group
You are only allowed to vacate one conviction during your life. This means it is a very important decision and one you should discuss with an attorney who has extensive experience in this matter. Furthermore, the laws regarding expungement are complicated; your circumstances need to be carefully reviewed by a professional to determine your legal position. To ensure that your petition to the court is prepared precisely, we recommend that you work with a member of our seasoned legal team. The process can be tedious with pitfalls you will want to avoid. Hester Law Group can guide you through the expungement process in pursuit of clearing your name and rebuilding your future.
Reach out to us at (253) 300-3034 to arrange for a free case evaluation today.