Expunge Juvenile Record In Washington State

by ECL Writer

In the pursuit of justice and rehabilitation, the state of Washington has taken significant steps to ensure that the mistakes made during one’s youth do not define their entire future. Juvenile offenders, like all individuals, deserve a second chance to build a better life, free from the burdens of past transgressions. Expunging juvenile records is a pivotal component of this mission, offering young people the opportunity to move forward with a clean slate.

In Washington State, the process of expunging juvenile records serves as a beacon of hope for those who have been entangled in the juvenile justice system. It is a mechanism that acknowledges the developmental stages of adolescence and recognizes the potential for personal growth and change. This Eastcoastlaws.com article delves into the essential aspects of expunging juvenile records in Washington, shedding light on the significance of this legal process and how it contributes to the state’s commitment to fairness and redemption for its young citizens

Can I Vacate Or Expunge My Juvenile Record?

No, in adult court in Washington State, vacating and expunging are alternatives. The good news is that sealing a juvenile record will prevent the existence of the entire case from showing up in the public record, which includes criminal background checks. This is a better conclusion than vacating or expunging a record.

Understanding Washington State Juvenile Record Expunge

When you turn 18 in Washington, your juvenile court records do not simply vanish. In reality, unless you petition a judge to “seal” them, practically all of your juvenile records are still accessible to the public. For your record to be sealed, you must fulfill a number of requirements. The severity of the juvenile offense, the amount of time since your most recent conviction, and the existence of any outstanding criminal cases are just a few of the criteria that determine eligibility. If you meet the requirements, you must submit an application to the court asking for your record to be sealed.

You have a juvenile court record if you’ve ever dealt with the juvenile justice system. The official juvenile court file, the social file, and the records of any other juvenile justice or care organizations engaged in the case make up the three parts of the juvenile court record. Petitions, motions, memoranda, briefs, conclusions of the court, and court orders are all included in the official juvenile court file. Probation counselors’ records and reports are kept in the social file. The other juvenile court records are private, but the official juvenile court file is accessible to the public until it is sealed or erased.

You have criminal history record information (CHRI) on file with the Washington State Patrol in addition to a juvenile court record. The CHRI contains data on official criminal charges, such as arrests, detentions, indictments, and other charges, as well as any resolutions related to such charges, such as penalties, supervision in a correctional facility, and release. Additionally, it contains identifying details like fingerprints, name, birthdate, address, and physical description. A request for CHRI from an employer, creditor, or landlord is limited to:

  • Convictions;
  • Arrests within the previous year that have not reached disposition; and
  • Registered sex offenders or kidnappers.
    In addition to CHRI, you may also have arrest and incident reports on file with a
    local law enforcement agency (for example: the police department that arrested you).

Requirements For Sealing Juvenile Offender Records In Washington State

In Washington State, the process of sealing a juvenile record involves meeting specific eligibility criteria and gaining approval from a judge. If the conviction doesn’t fall under the category of a Class A felony or a sex offense, you may qualify for record sealing if the following conditions are satisfied after a two-year period:

  • No new criminal charges have been filed against you.
  • There are no outstanding restitution payments owed to the victim.
  • All court fees and fines have been settled.
  • There is no ongoing diversion agreement in place.

For convictions classified as Class A felonies, the same conditions apply, but an additional requirement is that five years must have elapsed before record sealing can be considered.

Or

If you meet certain legal requirements, the juvenile court may order that your juvenile offender court record be sealed. The juvenile court has the authority to order that your record be sealed if you follow the proper processes, respond “No” to all of the questions below, and answer in the negative to each one.

  • You are eligible if you can answer “NO” to these questions…

Do you have any criminal charges pending in the juvenile or adult court?
Is there any pending proceeding seeking a diversion agreement with you?
Is the charge classified as a sex offense?1

Do you still owe any court-ordered fines, restitution, or fees for the records you want to seal?
If you’re trying to seal records of a deferred disposition, there’s no mandatory waiting period after you turn 18. Are you under the age of 18?

If your charge is classified as a class A felony:
a) Have less than 5 years passed since the date of your disposition (when you were sentenced), or the day that you were released from confinement (JRA or the detention center) or from a full-time residential treatment program, whichever’s later?
b) Have you been convicted of any offenses/crimes within the last 5 years?

If your charge is classified as a class B felony:
a) Have less than 2 years passed since the date of your disposition (when you were sentenced), or the day that you were released from confinement (JRA or the detention center) or from a full-time residential treatment program, whichever’s later?
b) Have you been convicted of any offenses/crimes within the last 2 years?

If your charge is classified as a class C felony:
a) Have less than 2 years passed since the date of your disposition (when you were sentenced), or the day that you were released from confinement (JRA or the detention center) or from a full-time residential treatment program, whichever’s later?
b) Have you been convicted of any offenses/crimes within the last 2 years?

If your charge is classified as a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor:
a) Have less than 2 years passed since the date of your disposition (when you were sentenced), or the day that you were released from confinement (JRA or the detention center) or from a full-time residential treatment program, whichever’s later?
b) Have you been convicted of any offenses/crimes within the last 2 years?

If you’re trying to seal records of a diversion agreement:
a) Have less than 2 years passed since the completion of the diversion agreement OR your release from confinement (including full-time residential treatment)
b) Have you been convicted of any offenses/crimes within the last 2 years?

How To Seal Juvenile Records in Washington State

Criminal history.

Get a complete record of your criminal history. The Clerk’s Office or Juvenile Court can provide you with a copy of your criminal history. That record should include all of the criminal cases filed against you in juvenile court, including those cases that were dismissed. You should also ask for a copy of the financial history for each of those cases. The financial history will show the amounts of any fines, fees, and or restitution imposed by the court, and whether any money is still owed. If you were involved with Juvenile Court in more than one county, make sure to ask the Clerk’s Office to assist you in identifying which county each case is associated with.

Determine whether or not you meet the legal sealing requirements.

Look through your criminal and financial history and review the legal requirements.

Fill out the Motion and Declaration to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender
Pursuant to RCW 13.50.050(11) and (12).

If you believe that you meet the legal sealing requirements, the next step is to complete and file in the juvenile court the forms attached to this packet.

Fill out the form entitled Motion and Declaration to Seal Records of Juvenile Offenders Pursuant to RCW 13.50.050(11) and (12). This document called a motion, is your request to the juvenile court for your juvenile offender record to be sealed. The instructions for filling out this form are on page 8. You must fill out a Motion for each case that you want to seal, even cases that were dismissed.

Schedule a hearing.

In most counties, you must have a hearing at the juvenile court during which a judge or court commissioner will decide whether or not to grant your sealing request. You don’t need an attorney to represent you at this hearing, but you’ll have to appear before a juvenile court judge or commissioner.

To set a hearing date, talk with the juvenile court clerk about an available hearing date and time. It may be best to do that in person. Ask the clerk to set the hearing date for at least two to four weeks from the time that you ask for it.

Fill out the Notice of Respondent’s Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile
Offender.

Once you have a hearing date, complete the Notice of Respondent’s Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender for each case for which you have filled out a Motion, – for each case that you want to seal.

You’re required to notify each agency that has records relating to your offender case(s) that you’re asking the juvenile court to seal those records and when and where the court hearing to decide your request is taking place. These agencies include the juvenile prosecutor, juvenile probation department, county sheriff, local police departments, and the Washington State Patrol. Presuming that you meet all sealing requirements, the agencies shouldn’t contest your request.

Make copies and file documents.

Make a copy of the completed Motion and a copy of the completed Notice for each case that you’re trying to seal. When you file the original documents with the juvenile court clerk, ask the clerk to date stamp each of your copies. That stamp proves when you filed the original documents. The clerk will keep your original documents.

Determine how many copies you need. Make that number of copies of your date-stamped set of documents.

Deliver or Mail the Motion(s) and Notice(s).

Court rules require that after you file your Motion(s) for sealing, you must deliver and/or mail the Motion(s) and Notice(s) to the juvenile court prosecutor, the juvenile court administrator, and the law enforcement agencies, including the Washington State Patrol (WSP), that have records of your case(s) that you’re asking to have sealed.

Deliver a date-stamped copy of each Motion and Notice for each case to the juvenile court prosecutor and the court administrator/juvenile probation department. You can do that right after you file the original documents with the clerk. It’s usually okay to leave the date-stamped copies with the office staff.

Mail a date-stamped copy of the Motion and Notice filed in each case to the Washington State Patrol, Records Division, PO Box 42633, Olympia, WA 98504. If you spent time in a JRA facility (Green Hill, Maple Lane, Echo Glen, Neselle, or Camp Outlook) for any of the cases that you’re trying to seal, you must mail the documents to: Records Coordinator, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, DSHS, P.O. Box 45045, Olympia, WA 98504. And, mail or deliver the Motion and Notice to any other law enforcement agencies that were involved with the case(s) that you’re trying to seal.


If you mail the documents, send a cover letter. Use the sample letter in Appendix A, including your personal information. Make sure to sign and date the letter, and make and keep a copy of each letter that you send.

If you can afford it, if you send the documents, do so by certified mail. If you do that, the post office will send you a postcard notice indicating when your mail was delivered. The cost for sending certified mail is about $6.00-$10.00.

Fill out the Order on Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender Pursuant
to RCW 13.50.050(11) and (12).

Before the hearing, fill out an Order on Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender Pursuant to RCW 13.50.050(11) and (12), attached to this packet, for each case that you’re asking to have sealed. Be sure to bring the
Order with you to the hearing.

Attend your court hearing.

The hearing will take place in front of a judge or commissioner at Juvenile Court. Dress nicely. Make sure to arrive to the hearing on time. At the hearing you should be polite, address the judge or commissioner as “your honor,” and answer questions honestly and clearly. Don’t interrupt the judge or other courtroom staff or the prosecutor if s/he’s talking. Follow the courtroom rules: you must not eat or drink; you must turn off all cell phones; and you must take off your hat.

Before the hearing, you should have with you all sets of copies of the Motion(s) and Notice(s) that you filed your copy of the Certificate of Service, and the Order that you filled out for each case.

After the hearing, obtain certified copies of the court orders.

If the Court approves your Motion(s) and signs your Order(s), you’ll need at least two certified copies of the Order(s). The court clerk makes certified copies of court documents. You’ll be charged approximately $6.00 for one certified copy of an Order.

Mail a copy of the certified order to every agency involved.

Mail the certified copy(ies) of the Order(s) to each law enforcement agency, the Washington State Patrol (WSP), and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA), if applicable, to whom you sent the sealing Motion(s). Send a cover letter with the
Order(s). Sign and date the letter. Make and keep a copy of each letter that you send.

What if your Motion is Denied

If the Court denies your sealing Motion(s) and you believe that you met all of the legal requirements, consider talking to an attorney for advice about what to do next. If you don’t have the money to pay for an attorney’s fees, call CLEAR, a legal service that offers free legal advice and referral, at 1-888-201-1014.

How do I Seal a Juvenile Sex Offense?

The foregoing eligibility requirements must have been satisfied, three to five years must have passed, and there cannot be a requirement to register as a sex offender if the conviction was for a juvenile sex offense. Before moving to seal the record, your attorney must petition the Washington State court to have any present registration requirements for sex offenders lifted.

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