General post-incarceration information
The Washington Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest has a Washington Reentry Guide that is a tool to help you get back on your feet after a period of incarceration. The Guide has information on many topics including family law concerns, employment, housing, rights restoration, legal financial obligations, debts, identification documents, healthcare, transportation, outstanding warrants, and work release.
Civil Survival organizes people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to build connections, gain knowledge and increase political participation. Their website has information about their advocacy and events.
Vacating convictions and clearing criminal records
Many people with a criminal record want to “expunge” or “clear” their criminal histories. While Washington law does not permit the destruction of adult, conviction records, some people may be eligible to “vacate” a conviction record. The ACLU of Washington's guide, Is My Client Eligible to Vacate an Adult Criminal Conviction?, provides general information about the requirements to vacate. Some additional sources of information are:
- DSHS has a list of options to remove criminal history information
- An overview about clearing misdemeanor records
- Instructions and forms for specific types of convictions: Washington LawHelp materials
- Instructions and forms to vacate certain felonies
- The State Court's Guide to Sealing and Destroying Court Records, Vacating Convictions, and Deleting Criminal History Records
The law library has a binder full of information available for copying. Some of this information is on the Internet, and some is from publications in the library.
The Washington State Supreme Court issued an opinion in the State v. Blake case in February, 2021, declaring the strict liability drug possession statute unconstitutional. As this is a new case, all of the effects are still unknown. A summary of the implications of the case outlines some of the legal issues. More information about the case is available from the Washington State Department of Corrections. People on community supervision because of drug possession convictions could have their sentences commuted by Gov. Jay Inslee. The Clark County Indigent Defense office has information and assistance if you think your conviction was invalid under Blake.
Voting rights restoration
Current law: According to the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC), per RCW 10.46.140, when a person is convicted of a felony, the court shall require the defendant to sign a statement acknowledging that the defendant's right to vote has been lost due to a felony conviction. If the defendant is registered to vote, the voter registration will be canceled. Voting rights can be provisionally and/or permanently restored after the defendant is no longer under the custody of the DOC.
The ACLU of Washington has a guide to Voting Rights Restoration in Washington State, and the DOC website has additional information about the restoration of voting rights and Certificates of Discharge. Official forms can be found on the State Court website under the Criminal Law heading.
Washington LawHelp has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about certificates of discharge.
New law: HB 1078 was passed in 2021 and will automatically restore voting rights to citizens immediately upon their release from prison. It is expected to restore the right to vote to 20,000 people when it takes effect on January 1, 2022. A Final Bill Report from the Washington Legislature and an FAQ on the effects of the bill from Washington Voting Justice discuss the impacts of the bill.
Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP)
A Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity is used after you have served your criminal sentence. It can make it easier to get a job or housing, and can help restore certain occupational licenses.
Washington LawHelp has an overview about CROPs including what they can and cannot do and who can qualify for one. They also have instructions and forms in a packet called File a Petition for Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity to ask the court for one.
Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs)
Legal financial obligations, or LFOs, are the fines, fees, costs and restitution imposed by the court on top of a criminal sentence. More information about LFOs can be found at:
- The ACLU of Washington's, Questions and Answers about Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs)
- The Clark County Superior Court Clerk's Office has instructions and forms to ask the court to reduce or waive LFOs
- Washington LawHelp's, How to Ask a Washington State Court to Reduce or Waive Your Legal Financial Obligations, contains instructions and forms to bring a motion before the court, asking the court to reduce or waive (forgive or cancel) LFOs
Gun rights restoration
The law library sells a Gun Rights Restoration self-help kit with forms and instructions to ask the court to restore firearms rights that were lost due to Washington State convictions. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.
The Clark County Sheriff's Office has provided additional information about factors that impact eligibility to restore gun rights.