Vacating Prior Convictions

Law Office of Igor A. Shapiro


We are proud to say our team has extensive experience in successfully vacating our clients’ prior convictions. Please feel free to call or e-mail us with any questions. Get a free consultation today.


What it means to get your criminal record vacated:

Vacating a criminal record is when a lawyer officially removes your criminal record, which means it will not appear on a state or federal background check.

Unfortunately, in Washington State, criminal convictions cannot be expunged. Only non-conviction law enforcement records can be expunged. Conviction records always exist in court databases, although vacated records are not visible to the public.

Vacated convictions are similar to dismissed cases:

In Washington State, a vacated conviction is treated as if the conviction never occurred in the first place. In that sense, it is identical to a dismissed criminal charge.

But a vacated conviction in otherwise functions like a conviction. In Washington, a criminal conviction—even if it is vacated—results in a loss of firearm rights.

How long a conviction stay on your record:

Unless you successfully vacate your conviction, your case will always appear on your criminal history record. Even then, vacated convictions are still available to the courts and law enforcement for limited purposes, so in some ways they never really disappear.

A deferred sentence the similar to a conviction in Washington:

If you’ve entered a deferred sentence, you plead guilty and the court puts you on probation, during which you have you complete certain conditions, such as paying fines, going to treatment, or staying away from certain people. If you successfully completed probation, the court dismisses the case.

According to 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.”

Things to know:


The court dismisses your case and removes your guilty finding


You are released from all disabilities and restrictions that have resulted from the offense


You may truthfully state under oath that you have never been convicted of the crime


The conviction is removed from your Washington state criminal history and the court also sends your vacation order to the FBI


Does vacating my felony conviction restore my gun rights?

In Washington, vacating your criminal conviction and restoring your gun rights are entirely separate procedures. Restoring your gun rights will not clear your criminal your record, and vacating your conviction will not restore your right to possess a firearm.

To vacate your conviction, you have to go back to the court where you were convicted. But to restore your gun rights, you have to file a new civil case in the appropriate superior court.

What is a certificate of discharge?

In Washington, a certificate of discharge restores your civil rights. These include the right to vote and the right to serve on a jury.

The court will issue you a certificate of discharge when you complete all the conditions of your felony sentence. This includes serving all prison time, successfully completing any treatment requirements, and paying off all your legal financial obligations.

You cannot vacate a felony conviction until you have completed your sentence. For this reason, you cannot vacate a felony conviction until the court has issued you a certificate of discharge.

In theory, the Department of Corrections is supposed to issue you a certificate of discharge as soon as you complete your sentence, but this regularly doesn’t happen. This means you will have to back to court and file a motion requesting the certificate.

Can I vacate a sex conviction in Washington?

You generally cannot vacate any sex crimes in Washington. The only exception is the misdemeanor crime of failure to register as a sex offender.

Under RCW 9A.44.132, you are guilty of a gross misdemeanor if you fail to register for a non-felony sex offense.

You cannot, however, vacate a conviction for felony failure to register.

Can I vacate a DUI conviction in Washington?

You cannot vacate a DUI under any circumstances, no matter how much time has elapsed.

You may, however, be able to vacate if you pleaded to a reduced charge, such as reckless driving or negligent driving in the first degree.

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