Expunge your misdemeanor in Washington state
Eligibility requirements to expunge your misdemeanor in Washington state
To expunge a misdemeanor in Washington state means to vacate it. The statute that controls vacating a misdemeanor is RCW 9.96.060.
You are eligible to expunge or vacate your misdemeanor if:
- You do not have any pending charges in any state or federal court (RCW 9.96.060(2)(a)); and
- At least three years have passed since you completed all conditions of your sentence, including probation and fines (RCW 9.96.060(2)(f)), or five years if domestic violence; and
- You have not been convicted of any new crime in any state or federal court since being sentenced for the conviction you’re trying to vacate, unless you have vacated the new conviction (RCW 9.96.060(2)(g)); and
- You have never had a previous misdemeanor vacated (RCW 9.96.060(2)(h)); and
- You are not the restrained party to any domestic violence protection order, no-contact order, anti-harassment order, or civil restraining order, nor have you been in the last five years (RCW 9.96.060(2)(i)); and
- Your conviction is not for DUI, physical control, operating a railroad or vessel while intoxicated, any violation of RCW 9.68 (obscenity and pornography), RCW 9.68A (sexual exploitation of children), or RCW 9A.44 (sex offenses) (RCW 9.96.060(2)(b), (c), (d)); and
- If expunging a domestic violence misdemeanor, you do not have another domestic violence conviction stemming from a previous incident. RCW 9.96.060(2)(e)(ii).
Expunging a reduced DUI misdemeanor in Washington state
If you were convicted of DUI as charged, you may not expunge your conviction. However, if found guilty of a charge that was reduced down from a DUI, such as reckless driving or negligent driving in the first degree, You can vacate the conviction ten years after the date of your arrest, assuming you have no subsequent arrests for alcohol-related driving offenses.
Expunging multiple misdemeanor convictions in Washington state
It is not possible to expunge multiple misdemeanor convictions. You may expunge only one misdemeanor in a lifetime, and it must be the most recent one. RCW 9.96.060(g), (h). There are two exceptions: first, if charged with multiple misdemeanors stemming from the same incident, then you may expunge all of them at the same time, assuming each one independently qualifies for expungement. Second, you may expunge all convictions for prostitution if you can prove that you were a victim of human trafficking. RCW 9.96.060(3).
A judge may defer imposing sentence upon entry of a guilty finding, and set certain conditions. RCW 3.66.067. If you complete all of the conditions within the required period, the judge will dismiss the case. Although this sounds like a dismissal, it is not. Because the court enters a guilty finding first, the deferred sentence continues to act as a conviction for all purposes even if subsequently dismissed. Therefore, if you received a deferred sentence and a dismissal, you should still take the extra step to vacate the conviction as outlined on this page.
Benefits of vacating a misdemeanor in Washington state
Vacating a misdemeanor conviction in Washington state is extremely advantageous because it releases you from all penalties and disabilities and allows you to answer truthfully for all purposes that you were not convicted of that crime. RCW 9.96.060(5). Vacating the misdemeanor also removes it from your official criminal history as maintained by the Washington State Patrol’s WATCH public criminal history database. RCW 9.96.070(7). Vacating a domestic violence misdemeanor does not restore Washington state firearm rights, which is a separate process.