Washington Record Sealing

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 10.97.060 allows a person to petition the court to seal their non-conviction data (criminal history that has not led to a conviction). This prevents the embarrassment or potential discrimination caused by records of an arrest. Once sealed, the arresting agency will be ordered to delete any non-conviction data. Nobody will be able to learn about the arrest and it is treated as if it did not occur.

Deletion of certain information, conditions.
Criminal history record information which consists of nonconviction data only shall be subject to deletion from criminal justice agency files which are available and generally searched for the purpose of responding to inquiries concerning the criminal history of a named or otherwise identified individual when two years or longer have elapsed since the record became nonconviction data as a result of the entry of a disposition favorable to the defendant, or upon the passage of three years from the date of arrest or issuance of a citation or warrant for an offense for which a conviction was not obtained unless the defendant is a fugitive, or the case is under active prosecution according to a current certification made by the prosecuting attorney.
Such criminal history record information consisting of nonconviction data shall be deleted upon the request of the person who is the subject of the record: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the criminal justice agency maintaining the data may, at its option, refuse to make the deletion if:
(1) The disposition was a deferred prosecution or similar diversion of the alleged offender;
(2) The person who is the subject of the record has had a prior conviction for a felony or gross misdemeanor;
(3) The individual who is the subject of the record has been arrested for or charged with another crime during the intervening period.
Nothing in this chapter is intended to restrict the authority of any court, through appropriate judicial proceedings, to order the modification or deletion of a record in a particular cause or concerning a particular individual or event.
What is the difference between vacating and sealing a record in Washington?
Record sealing, which can be done after vacating a conviction or for an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, (GR-15) seals the records so only the judge or an authorized court personnel can view them. Vacating takes the conviction off of the record and gives you the right to say you do not have a criminal record— but the records of a case without a finding of guilt remains. It is very rare that a court will seal a vacated conviction.

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