Many people, even lawyers, are confused about the difference between vacating a criminal conviction and expunging non-conviction criminal history.
Expungement is the legal process used to persuade local Washington police agencies and the Washington State Patrol Criminal History Records Section in Olympia, WA to destroy all non-conviction criminal history records of a police arrest. Such records include all police reports, witness statements, fingerprints, forensic test results, and photos (“mug shots”). Deletion of such police criminal history records is governed by RCW 10.97.060. The decision whether to expunge is discretionary for the police agency. So they may or may not do it.
Vacation is the legal process used to completely set aside a court’s criminal conviction currently on a person’s criminal record. It is solely a court process, governed by RCW 9.94A.640 and RCW 9.96.060. A motion to vacate the criminal conviction is usually brought in the same court where the conviction was obtained. An offender whose conviction has been vacated may then lawfully state for all purposes that he or she has not been convicted of that crime. However, when an adult conviction is vacated, the court file is not destroyed.
Call Lynnwood criminal defense lawyer Paul Hanson for more information. Call 428-778-7339