AND EXPUNGING RECORDS
By Mark W. Prothero
I know when I was a kid
- okay, even as a young adult - I did some pretty stupid things. Maybe
you didn't, but a lot of us did (W included). Unfortunately, many
of those stupid, immature acts come back to haunt us after we left
those things way in the past. On job applications, school applications,
license applications, presidential campaigns, the question inevitably
comes up: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
For most crimes,
the laws of the State of Washington provide a mechanism to have the
records of adult criminal convictions expunged or juvenile offense
adjudications sealed such that, under the law, it acts as if the crime
or offense never occurred. And, under the law, you can answer “No”
to the above-question.
For some serious crimes and offenses, the record
never goes away and cannot be expunged or sealed. This includes Class
A felonies, such as murder, kidnapping first degree, robbery first
degree, and so on. This prohibition also applies to most sex offenses.
Depending on the underlying crime or offense, the law imposes a certain
amount of time before the motion to expunge or seal may be made. The
law requires that a certain amount of crime-free behavior has passed
before the expungement or sealing may occur. This may vary from two
to ten years, depending on the nature of the underlying adult crime
or juvenile offense.
Civil rights such as the right to vote and the
right to possess firearms, lost by virtue of a criminal conviction,
may be restored under these statutory procedures. Mistakes in the
past do not have to prevent you from fully enjoying your constitutional
and civil rights in the present or future. Just ask the President.