Vacating a Conviction

What Does Vacating a Record Mean?

Vacating a conviction for a misdemeanor crime means the court determines you meet certain conditions and orders. If you pled guilty to a crime, your plea will be changed to not guilty and then the charges are dismissed. If you were found guilty, the court may set aside the conviction, dismiss the case and vacate the judgment and sentence.

If your record is vacated, your name, the case number, the charge, a "V" for vacated, and, "DV" if the file was related to domestic violence will still show up in the court's information system and online portal. Vacating a record does not remove information from the court's electronic record. The record will remain and is public. The record will be updated to contain information about the vacation of the record.

If you were arrested and fingerprinted, these records are maintained by the arresting agency, the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Questions regarding arrest records should be directed to the arresting agency or the Washington State Patrol. Under most circumstances, you are allowed to have only one conviction vacated in Washington.

Can I Expunge a Court Record?

There is no legal authority allowing courts to expunge or destroy court records (See Washington State Court Rule GR15(h); 152 Wn. App 186, State v Young). Although court records may not be expunged or destroyed, non-conviction records may in some circumstances be expunged from the files of other criminal justice agencies. For more information on removing non-conviction information, contact the Washington State Patrol

What Convictions Cannot Be Vacated?

A criminal conviction cannot be vacated if any of the following apply:

  • You have another conviction for a new crime in this state, another state, or in federal court, since the date of the original Seattle Municipal Court conviction.
  • There are criminal charges pending against you in this state, another state or in federal court.
  • The offense was a violent offense or an attempt to commit a violent offense (as defined in RCW 9.94A.030).
  • The offense was for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (in violation of RCW 46.61.502).
  • The offense was for actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (in violation of RCW 46.61.504).
  • The offense was for operating a railroad while intoxicated (in violation of RCW 9.91.020).
  • The offense was any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor violation including attempt of obscenity and pornography (in violation of RCW 9.68).
  • The offense was for sexual exploitation of children (in violation of chapter RCW 9.68A).
  • The offense was a sex offense (in violation of chapter RCW 9A.44).
  • For non-domestic violence cases, it has been less than 3 years since the completion of the original terms and conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations or treatment ordered as a condition of sentencing.
  • For domestic violence cases, it has been less than 5 years since completion of the original terms and condition of the sentence, including any financial obligations or treatment ordered as a condition of sentencing.
  • For domestic violence cases, you cannot have had convictions prior to the one you are attempting to vacate that were related to domestic violence.
  • You are currently, or in the last 5 years, have been restrained by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an anti-harassment order, or a civil restraining order.

Request To Vacate a Conviction

To determine if your conviction qualifies, you may need to consult an attorney. The court cannot offer legal advice.

Information on the process along with applicable forms are posted on the court's Procedures for Vacating a Conviction web page.