In the ever-evolving journey of life, the past should not define our future, especially for those who have made youthful mistakes. In the state of Washington, there exists a pathway toward redemption, a second chance to erase the blemishes of juvenile delinquency from one’s record. The process of sealing juvenile records in Washington offers an opportunity for individuals to move forward unburdened by the shadows of their past actions. This Eastcoastlaws.com article is your comprehensive guide, shedding light on the steps and requirements necessary to seal juvenile records in Washington State. Join us on a journey toward a brighter, more promising future, where the mistakes of youth need not haunt us forever.
Eligibility Requirements To Seal Juvenile Records in Washington State
The process of sealing a juvenile record in Washington State 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.
How To Seal Juvenile Records in Washington State
Gather your juvenile criminal history.
To start the process, you will need to get a complete listing of your criminal history. You can get this from the Superior Court clerk or juvenile court in any county. See juvenile courts in Washington. Ask the court clerk for a listing of all of the juvenile offender cases filed against you in juvenile court, including those cases that were not charged, or 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 had juvenile court cases in more than one county, make sure to ask the clerk for help in
identifying which county each case is associated with.
Figure out if you meet the legal sealing requirements.
Look through your criminal and financial history. If you have more than one juvenile case, you will need to make a separate request to the court to seal each one. In order to seal a juvenile case, you will need to meet a certain set of requirements in the law. For each case you want to seal, go through the checklist of questions in the chart below. For a listing of types of offenses and their “class”.
Complete the forms needed to file your sealing request and notify the necessary people that you are making the request.
If you are eligible for sealing, you must make your request to seal in the county where your case took place. You will need to fill out one copy of each of these forms for
every case you would like to have sealed:
- Motion and Declaration to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender Pursuant to RCW
- 13.50.260(3) and (4)
- Notice of Respondent’s Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender
- Order on Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender Pursuant to RCW 13.50.260(3) & (4)
- Certificate of Service
You can use an online tool that will generate the court forms for you. See
www.washingtonlawhelp.org and select Youth Law & Education > Juvenile Offenders.
Schedule a hearing
In most counties, sealing your record requires a hearing in front of a judge. Before you file your motion, you will need to get a hearing date from the juvenile court. You usually have to do this in person. Bring your completed forms with you. Explain to the juvenile court clerk that you would like to seal your record, and ask for a hearing date and time. When you get a hearing date, you will need to add that information to the form “Notice of Respondent’s Motion to Seal Records of Juvenile Offender” before you mail or deliver it to the prosecutor, law enforcement, and juvenile justice agencies that need to be notified.
Make copies and file your documents. Then make more copies
After you fill in the hearing date on the Notice form, you should make a copy of the documents to keep for yourself. Now you are ready to file the original documents with the court. When you file the original documents with the juvenile court clerk, ask the clerk to stamp the date on your copy. That “date stamp” is proof that you filed the original documents. The clerk will keep your original documents. You will need to take your copy of the “date stamped” documents and make enough additional copies (except for the Order) to deliver or mail to all the agencies described in the next step.
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: the 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. 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 Offenders 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 the Juvenile Court. Dress nicely. Make sure to arrive at 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), including your personal information. 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.