Your criminal record can have a crippling and far-reaching consequences long after you get out of prison or finish probation.
In the Internet age, you can never really escape your past. Anyone with a credit card and a few dollars can go online and run a criminal background check on you. Landlords, creditors, neighbors, even your friends and family can easily find out if you have a criminal past.
Not surprisingly, more than 80 percent of employers run criminal background checks on potential employees.
With a criminal record, you may have a hard time finding a job or securing a housing. If you're not a citizen, a criminal conviction can result in deportation.
With a criminal record, you may lose access to the following public benefits:
- Student loans
- Public housing
- Social security
- Food stamps
- Worker's compensation benefits
- Possessing a firearm
- Traveling to Canada
- Military service
We offer the following services to help you clear your criminal record and protect your future:
Restoring your Firearm Rights
You have a constitutional right to possess firearms but your right is not absolute.
In Washington and Oregon, you may lose your right to possess firearms if you've been convicted of a felony or domestic violence offense, unless the court restores your right.
To get your firearm rights restored, you have to meet certain requirements, which differ by state.
Vacating a Criminal Conviction
Vacating a conviction means that your conviction is officially removed from your criminal record. Vacated convictions will not appear on any Washington State Patrol (WSP) or FBI background check.
Once your conviction is vacated, you can legally say that you were never convicted of that crime on an employment or housing application.
In Washington, you can vacate a felony or a misdemeanor conviction but you have to wait a certain period of time after you were convicted, depending on the type of crime and seriousness of the offense.
Sealing Court Records
Once your court record is sealed, no one can inspect or access your court records--both the physical files and the electronic records. Sealed records also do not appear on a WSP or FBI background check.
Expunging Criminal Records
Expungement means your criminal record is physically destroyed and all electronic records are deleted.
In Washington, only non-conviction records can be expunged.
Withdrawing a Guilty Plea
In Washington, a guilty plea must be knowing, voluntary, and intelligent, and there must be a factual basis to support it.
But what happens if the judge or your attorney didn't properly advise you of the consequences of pleading guilty? Or if you forced into pleading guilty? You have a right to withdraw your plea.
Sex Offender Registration Removal
Anyone convicted of a sex offense in Washington must register as a sex offender. As you can imagine, the requirement to register creates a devastating stigma that will likely result in loss of work, housing, or friends.
In some cases, you may only have to register for 10 to 15 years. In many cases, you have to register forever unless you can convince the court that you are no longer a danger to the community.