Like most Americans, job hunters in Southwest Washington are having a tough time securing employment. There are too many applicants for too few jobs. Now, more than ever, job hunters need to get noticed for all the right reasons. If you have a criminal record, you are getting noticed for the wrong reasons and being excluded from many job opportunities.

Criminal convictions have a tendency to haunt people throughout their lives. Whether you stole a candy bar (Theft in the Third Degree) or punched someone in a high school fight (Assault in the Fourth Degree), your past could eliminate you from a great job. What can you do? Vacate your criminal conviction!

Depending on your criminal record, you may petition the court to have your conviction erased from your record. This means that once the court vacates a record of conviction, you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense, including answering “NO” to the question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Although the statute governing the vacation of a felony conviction differs from the vacation of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor conviction, the tests are very similar. If you were convicted of a Class B felony, you must have completed probation, paid all legal financial obligations, and received a Certificate of Discharge at least ten (10) years prior to petitioning the court to vacate; a Class C Felony requires five (5) years; and a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense requires three (3) years, but five (5) years are required if a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense involved domestic violence.

The test also precludes you from petitioning the court to vacate your conviction if: (1) There are any criminal charges against you pending in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal court; (2) The offense was a violent offense, such as Assault in the Second Degree, Manslaughter, or Robbery in the Second Degree; (3) The offense was for Driving Under the Influence (DUI/DWI); (4) The offense is considered a Sex Offense; (5) The offense was a crime against a vulnerable person such as a child under sixteen years of age, a developmentally disabled person, or a vulnerable adult; or (6) You have been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal court since the date of your discharge.

If you believe you are eligible to have your criminal record vacated, I urge you to seek the advice of an attorney with experience in vacating convictions. Be prepared to show the court why your conviction should be vacated. The court has some discretion and may need more than just, “My conviction fits within the statute.” With a well crafted argument and petition, you will be on your way to a clean record and the job you deserve!