How long does an assault charge stay on my record in Washington State?

There is practically no complete “expungement” in Washington State

Washington State has very limited, to put it mildly, expungement (physical, complete destruction of the court file and all government computer records).  It is in fact almost nonexistent in Washington State (e.g., a DUI can never be vacated or otherwise removed from one’s record in Washington State), But, some DV Assault and non-DV Assault convictions can ordinarily be “vacated” after the applicable period of time has elapsed if there are no new interim law violations. A 4th degree assault that is not DV can be vacated three years after the case and probation is closed (meaning all legal financial obligations must be first paid before the 3-year clock begins to run for ability to request discretionary vacating. If the 4th degree (gross misdemeanor) assault charge is DV-related, the waiting period is 5 years.

Vacating Felony Assault Convictions in Washington State

Vacating felony assault convictions is obviously more difficult, and the highest level of felony assaults are not always possible to vacate.  This gets into numerous overlapping statutory definitions of “most serious offenses,” “violent offenses,” “offenses against persons,” etc., and thus no simple answer can be given here. Most felony assaults can be vacated after either 5 or 10 years from the date the sanction is served, the probation is completed and all fines etc. are paid, providing you do not pick up any new arrests or convictions in the interim (here or in any other state or country). Felony DV convictions are not all vacate-eligible, but if it is eligible, the waiting period depending on the offense is usually either five or ten years.

A request to vacate a record of an assault conviction is discretionary with the court

It could therefore be denied by the court for any reason. If a request to vacate is granted, though, your previous Guilty Plea is withdrawn (“pulled back”) and the entire case is then dismissed.  You can then legally and truthfully say you were never convicted of the assault charge. It also means you can legally not disclose the previous conviction as one on job, school or other applications and forms, even for the government.

It’s not a Perfect solution

Vacating an offense is good but not a perfect answer because there still remains a record of the case. It is not deleted.  Occasionally, we can ask the court to seal your criminal record instead of, or in addition to vacating it.  Sealing criminal convictions or records is a separate and also complicated arena.    Consult an experienced professional right away to discuss your options to vacate or seal your Washington State assault conviction.

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