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Can I vacate a domestic violence conviction in Washington?

You can vacate a domestic violence (DV) conviction in Washington, but the requirements for vacation are more stringent than other misdemeanors.

In addition to the four main requirements set forth in RCW 9.96.060 (the misdemeanor vacation statute in Washington), you have to satisfy the following four requirements

  • Five years have passed since you completed your sentence. This includes paying all court costs and completing all court-ordered treatment
  • You have not had two or more DV convictions that resulted from different incidents
  • You have notified the prosecutor in writing that you are trying to vacate your conviction
  • You were previously subject to a restraining order and you were found to have violated the order at least once in the previous five years before filing your motion to vacate

What is a domestic violence offense?

A DV offense means you committed the crime against a so-called “intimate partner” or a “family or household member” as defined in RCW 26.50.010.

An “intimate partner” means any of the following people:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Domestic partner or former domestic partner
  • You and the victim have a child in common—even if you were never married or never lived together
  • Current boyfriend or girlfriend that lives with you
  • An ex-partner or ex-spouse with whom you lived in the past

A “family or household” member means any of the following people:

  • Anyone related to you by blood or marriage
  • Any adult person who lived with you in the past (i.e. roommate)
  • Anyone with whom you have a legal parent-child relationship. This could be a stepparent, stepchild, grandparent, or grandchild

You are guilty of a misdemeanor DV offense if you commit any of the following crimes against an “intimate partner” or “family or household member” in Washington: 

  • Assault in the fourth degree
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree
  • Criminal trespass in the second degree
  • Malicious mischief in the third degree

I was charged with a misdemeanor DV offense but I pleaded guilty to a non-DV offense. Does this change 

Probably not.  Here's why.

Under RCW 9.96.060, the judge can review the “court file” to determine whether the offense charged can be classified as a DV offense.  At a minimum, the court file is going to include a “probable cause” statement (basically, a summarized version of the police report). 

From this report, the judge may determine that the offense is a DV offense even if you didn't plead guilty to a DV offense.  Therefore, you will not be eligible to vacate unless you comply with the four main requirements under RCW 9.96.060 and the four additional requirements discussed above.  

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