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Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys For The Tacoma Area

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Tacoma Expungement Attorney – New HOPE Act

by | Mar 4, 2020 | Vacate Conviction

There is excellent news for people who want to get rid of their Pierce County felony or misdemeanor conviction. The State of Washington has now made it possible for a Tacoma expungement attorney to clean up even felony assault charges.

When people think of cleaning up a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction, they often refer to the process of expungement. Technically, the proper term is “vacation”. You can vacate criminal convictions, which then become what’s called “non-conviction data”. Once something is non-conviction data, you may be able to expunge that court record after a waiting period.

Vacating Process – Get Rid of a Conviction

To remove a felony or misdemeanor conviction from your history, you need to petition the Court to vacate the judgment and sentence. The Court will look at the type of crime committed, the date of the conviction, whether you did everything required, and how long you’ve stayed out of trouble. If your offense is eligible for vacating, and you did everything necessary long enough ago, the Court will vacate your conviction.

Vacating a Conviction

After filing the petition, the next step in getting rid of your conviction is when the Court vacates the Judgment and Sentence (J&S) in your case. That action brings the case back to life. The Court then dismisses the case against you “with prejudice”. That means that the State can never again bring those charges against you. Washington law then says that the government cannot use that vacated conviction against you. Once the court vacates your sentence, you can honestly say that you were not convicted of that crime!

After vacating your conviction, the Court will send a copy of the Vacate Order to the Washington State Patrol (WSP). WSP will then update your public history to hide your original conviction. WSP will also update the FBI, which will also reflect that your past is now conviction-free. At that point, law enforcement agencies are not allowed to share your conviction history with any non-criminal justice entities.

Judicial Discretion to Expunge or Vacate

Courts are required to follow the law, but judges still have a lot of power to say no to your request. That’s why it is vital to be very careful and make sure that your paperwork for the Court is perfect. If something is wrong, the judge will shoot you down without any explanation. That can be frustrating and time-consuming.

What Can You Vacate?

Class A offenses cannot be vacated. Many Class B convictions are likewise not eligible for vacation. Courts can vacate most Class C felonies, but there are exceptions for crimes against police officers and other people. Likewise, Courts can clean up most misdemeanors, but there are differences between Domestic Violence (DV) offenses and non-DV ones. Alcohol-related offenses also have some interesting nuances. It is very important to understand the differences between convictions before you invest time and money in cleaning up your criminal history.

The experienced Pierce County expungement attorneys can help you clean up your history, restore your firearm rights, and even stop registering. Call today to schedule your free consultation, office.