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What court records can be sealed in Washington?

In Washington, you can file a motion to seal your "court records."

What are court records?

Your “court record” consists of all the physical documents and electronically stored information and files associated with your case in a particular court.   

The court record also consists of the “case docket,” which contains basic information about the case.  This includes the case number, the criminal charge, the assigned court, your attorney's name, the prosecutor's information, the judge for each hearing, and a summary of what happened at each hearing.

For example:  You were charged with DUI in Snohomish County District Court.  You went to trial and a jury found you guilty.  Your court record would include the following documents:

  • Criminal complaint
  • The probable cause statement (i.e. a summarized version of the police report)
  • Jury instructions
  • Trial exhibits
  • The judgment and sentence form (i.e. which describes your sentence)
  • Any other documents filed during the case

Court records are generally open to the public.  The public and court can access and review court records using online databases such as the Judicial Information System (JIS) and the Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS).

What's not included in my court record?

  • The judge's personal notes, emails, or draft pleadings about the case
  • Law enforcement reports that have been entered into the court record, even if the court has access to these documents
  • The prosecutor's case file, including emails, reports, notes, correspondence, and other documents

This is why most law enforcement agencies can access most sealed records, because they created the records long before they were made part of your court file.  

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