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What are the requirements for vacating a misdemeanor conviction in Washington?

RCW 9.96.060 sets forth the requirements for vacating a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor conviction in Washington.

You must meet these four requirements to vacate a misdemeanor conviction in Washington

  • You have completed all the terms of your sentence, including paying all court costs
  • There are no pending criminal charges against you in any state, federal, or tribal court
  • Three years have passed since you completed your sentence
  • There are no pending restraining orders against you. These include domestic violence protection orders, anti-harassment orders, or any other type of civil restraining orders 

Example: You pleaded guilty to theft in the third degree (a misdemeanor) in 2014 and you completed your sentence in 2016.  In January 2020, your father obtained a 1 year domestic violence protection order against you but criminal charges were never filed.  Even though 3 years has passed since you completed your sentence, you are not eligible to vacate your conviction.

Are deferred sentences considered criminal convictions?

Yes.  Under RCW 10.97.030, the Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act defines a "conviction" to include a criminal conviction or an adverse disposition to include "a dismissal entered after a period of probation, suspension, or deferral of sentence."

Can I vacate more than one misdemeanor in my lifetime?

Yes.  This is a recent development.

Before July 2019, you could only vacate one misdemeanor conviction during your lifetime.  But under the New Hope Act, you can vacate as many misdemeanors as you are eligible, subject to court approval. 

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