Criminal Records

Clear Your Past Criminal Record

If you’ve ever been in the unfortunate situation of being arrested, you know that there’s more to worry about than just the arrest itself. One of the main concerns is whether it will show up on your record for the rest of your life.

At Garguile DUI & Traffic Lawyers, we tell many of our clients every week, “this is what we are fighting for.” A criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life. We want to do everything legally possible to put you in the position you were before you were charged, found guilty or took that plea deal years ago. We often get asked, “Will my employer find out about this case?”

As a general rule, no agency makes it their mission to tell an employer about a charge that an employee may be dealing with, but it is the public record once a arrest has been made. Unless you or someone else tells them you have been arrested for a crime, they will likely not find out unless they run a criminal background check. Unfortunately, the law allows for the arrest on a charge to be a public record even though you have not been convicted of anything. The best course of action after having been arrested is to find a Tacoma Expungement Attorney you are comfortable with to discuss your rights, the process, and procedure.

An Overview:

A person’s criminal record can easily be found on the internet. The Washington State Patrol (WSP), Identification and Criminal History Section are considered the official gatekeeper of criminal records in Washington State. Convictions and Arrests are made available on a WATCH report on the WSP website.

A criminal conviction can have severe conseԛuences beyond jail time if a person does not expunge, vacate or seal his record. A record can make you ineligible for employment. Crime “against a person” or offences related to financial exploitation will prohibit employment at nursing homes, child care facilities, boarding homes, school, hospitals, or any other place with a vulnerable population. A criminal record can also impact a person’s access to the following:

  1. Private and public housing
  2. Voting rights
  3. Student loans
  4. Military service
  5. Traveling to Canada
  6. Firearm possession
  7. Legal status to remain in the United States

In some cases, the stigma of an arrest or conviction may be reversed through expunging, vacating, or sealing a charge. It’s important to understand the difference between the three and the eligibility requirements.

The differences between Expunging, Vacating, and Sealing are as follows

  • Expunging a Record: Expunging a record means the arrest information will be physically destroyed. The Washington State Patrol is the only agency that will expunge arrest records. However, to be eligible the arrest must not have resulted in an “adverse action” against the arrestee. Adverse actions include convictions, bail forfeitures, deferred sentences, pre-trial diversion agreements and stipulated order of continuance even if the case is dismissed after completing affirmative conditions. Essentially, only arrests that are never filed in court, acquittals, or outright dismissals can be expunged.
  • Vacating a Conviction: The Court will withdraw the guilty plea and dismiss the charge. The WSP will delete the record from the WATCH report and you can officially say you have never been convicted of the offense. However, private companies maintain databases without updating their records and may continue to disseminate incorrect convictions on the internet. We encourage Clients to send a letter requesting they update their database or face civil liability.
  • Sealing a Record: The actual court file is sealed, and limited information is available on the Judicial Information System (JIS) and Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS). JIS and SCOMIS databases are used by Court staff and the public to review criminal records. However, a sealed record does not restrict the release of information that is already on the internet or part of a private database.

Expunging A Misdemeanor Conviction

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor offense in Washington State, your attorney might petition the court to expunge the conviction under certain circumstances:

  • You must not have any pending charges
  • You must not have any new convictions on your record
  • The offense was not a DUI
  • The offense was not violent
  • The offense was not a crime against a person
  • The offense did not involve obscenity or sexual exploitation of children
  • You have not been restrained by a protection order in the last five years
  • You have never had another conviction expunged
  • Three years have passed since the conviction (this applies to most circumstances, but in certain cases, the waiting period is longer, so it is important to discuss these exceptions with your attorney)

Expunging A Felony Conviction

  • If you were convicted of a felony offense in Washington, you might petition the court to expunge the conviction under certain circumstances:
    • The above reԛuirements for expunging a misdemeanor offense have been met (the requirement of never having had a conviction vacated does not apply to felonies)
    • For a Class B felony, ten years have passed since the conviction
    • For a Class C felony, five years have elapsed since the conviction

We Can Help!

In 2014, when the American Bar Association conducted a national survey of “collateral consequences” — legal restrictions imposed on people with criminal records — they found 44,500 different state and federal statutes.

We understands how a history can hold you back. We understand the frustration that exists from having to explain an old criminal conviction on every job or rental application. It is imperative to find an attorney who understands all the life-long implications to a criminal charge, and even more important to find an attorney who knows how to defend them. We have the local experience and reputation to assist you in clearing your criminal records. At Garguile Law we have successfully vacated, expunged, and sealed files across Washington State. We understand what you are dealing with may likely affect the rest of your life, and we will promise to give your case the personal time and attention it will need to receive the best possible resolution for you. Don’t let a criminal record ruin the rest of your life. Let us help expunge, vacate or seal your criminal record and move on with your life.a