If you were convicted of a crime, misdemeanor or felony, in Kittitas County, you may be at the point where you want to remove or delete that conviction from your record. Most people call me to ask for an expungement. Washington law is a bit complicated in its terminology for this area.
It is really important that you consult a lawyer for your specific situation. These laws change often and this article may not be accurate for your situation. Give my office a call for assistance, as I frequently help clients with this area of the law.
Do you need to expunge or vacate your old conviction?
If you were convicted of a charge by guilty plea or trial verdict, you are looking to vacate your conviction. It is the same idea as what most people commonly call an expungement - the conviction is removed from your record and you don't need to say you've been convicted on things like job applications or housing applications.
If you were charged with something but the case did not result in a guilty conviction, then you are trying to expunge your record. This means you are asking the Washington State Patrol to delete your non-conviction record from their system. Refer to the end of this article for more on expungement, as you probably don't need a lawyer for that request. If you are trying to vacate a conviction, though, call me.
How do I vacate my old Kittitas County felony or misdemeanor conviction?
If you were charged with a felony or charged with a misdemeanor in Ellensburg, you may be eligible to remove that conviction from your record - but you need to wait until after a period of time passes. Washington law is not easy in this regard, as various requirements exist, so it is important to hire a lawyer to help you with this. 2019 laws expanded the vacate rules too, which means most felonies are now eligible.
First, you need to figure out what your waiting period is. For class B felonies, you must wait 10 years from the applicable waiting period date. For class C felonies, you must wait 5 years from the waiting period date. You also cannot have any new convictions in this timeframe. The later date of the following needs to pass before you're eligible:
For misdemeanors, you can seek to vacate your misdemeanor conviction even if you have another conviction. You just need to wait 3 years for most misdemeanors or 5 years for a domestic violence offense. The big caveat for misdemeanors is you also MUST have your fines/fees paid off with the court. Your timeframe here cannot start until after your final payment, which frequently hangs clients up with misdemeanor vacate requests.
If you are 21 years old or older, a conviction for possession of marijuana can be vacated at any time - in other words, you do not need to wait the 3 year period. For a case that started as a DUI, even if you did not ultimately have a conviction for DUI, you must wait even longer depending on the type of case. These are complicated, so consulting a lawyer is a good idea.
How does the process work to vacate a conviction?
You need to file a motion with the court and the prosecutor. You also need to provide various documentation with your motion. Sometimes, you need to get a certificate of discharge signed by the judge for a felony conviction. This isn't easy to do without a lawyer, so I recommend hiring someone. As I mentioned above, I frequently do these types of cases for clients. Feel free to give me a call for assistance.
After the motion is filed, the prosecutor's office will review the case. They'll run your out-of-state criminal history to make sure you qualify. If they think you qualify, they will sign off on the final order. I can typically present agreed orders to our judges without a hearing, which moves the case along faster.
If a hearing is required, it is noted up with the court clerk. This hearing is where your attorney will explain to the judge why you qualify, why the prosecutor may be wrong in thinking you do not qualify, or to address whatever other issue may be present.
Once the judge signs the order to vacate, the following text appears at the end of the judge's order. This frequently is very emotional for a lot of my clients, as it is quite a big deal:
"For all purposes, including responding to questions on employment applications, the defendant may state that he or she has never been convicted of any offense listed in paragraph 3.1."
It should be noted that an order to vacate does not restore your rights to possess a firearm. This is a totally separate, and similarly complicated, process. I will frequently do both of these at the same time, but your firearm rights are not restored because your conviction is vacated.
Expungement: deleting non-conviction data
If your case was dismissed, dropped, or you were found not guilty, expungement is the route you want to take. The charge could have been dismissed outright or after a stay of proceedings/stay of continuance. You cannot have previous gross misdemeanor or felony convictions on your record, however. You also cannot have any arrests, charges, or convictions between the period of time you are requesting expungement. You cannot apply until 2 years after the court's dismissal or final disposition.
You likely do not need a lawyer for an expungement, as you simply need to fill out this form:
Governor Jay Inslee extended his June 4, 2020 expiration of his COVID-19 related eviction moratorium with a new expiration of August 1, 2020. The extension also modifies the moratorium quite a bit, to include but not limited to:
When can my Washington Commercial Driver's License (CDL) be suspended, revoked, cancelled, or otherwise affected by a Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
Clients typically wonder what will happen to their CDL when they get charged with a DUI, even if the Driving Under the Influence case occurred when they were driving a personal car (in other words, they were NOT driving a commercial vehicle). Department of Licensing takes a two-step approach in attempt to revoke your commercial drivers license after you get charged with a DUI.
The following, as of 5/20/20, are possible reasons your CDL could be affected:
You need to make sure to update your mailing address with Department of Licensing immediately. They will send you notifications about your license via mail. License Express is an easy way to do that at https://www.dol.wa.gov/licenseexpress.html.
Even if you contest your CDL revocation after you are charged with a DUI, you still need to worry about the resolution of the case (e.g., a conviction for one of the above) also impacting your CDL. It is important to hire an attorney to assist you with this entire process, as it gets complicated very quickly.
Tony represents people charged with Washington State traffic infractions such as speeding, expired license tabs, and other offenses cited in Kittitas County or Yakima County. One of the questions that frequently arises is whether an offense is considered a moving violation for insurance purposes.
Non-moving violations are usually infractions like parking tickets, camera speed tickets, equipment violations (headlights, tail light infractions, etc.) or insurance/license/registration paperwork violations. A non-moving violation will still appear on your driver's record, and your insurance agency would see it if it is on your record. The big difference in Washington State, compared to other states, is we do NOT use a points system for our violations. If you can get a non-moving violation instead of a moving violation, you are in a better position.
Washington State defines a moving violation in WAC 308-104-160. If the violation is NOT listed in WAC 308-104-160, it is therefore a non-moving violation.
Driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug as defined by RCW 46.61.502;
These are the best resources I have found on the 2020 CARES Act economic small business grants and payroll protection program. Click the buttons below for more info.
UPDATE as of 4/2/20: The Payroll Protection Program details are now available. I linked to a really good extensive resource about the program. This program covers almost all employers, including self-employed people with no other employees. You have to apply for the loan, which can be completely forgiven if used for payroll. Locally, I am using Umpqua Bank for this. Their portal is at: https://pages.umpquabank.com/cares-act-paycheck-protection-program
Additionally, the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce announced they will manage our local state small grant program. More info on that application process is being released on April 6.
UPDATE as of 3/30/20:
The federal government passed a comprehensive bill to provide small business relief during COVID-19 closures and impacted time. I linked to a really good fact/info sheet from Senator Durbin below. I also linked to a webinar for small businesses. Finally, I linked directly to the (very easy) SBA application. You may qualify for FORGIVEN funds (funds you don’t need to pay back) for payroll and other expenses. It is definitely worth looking into, but do so quickly because the funds are capped based on first-come applicants, as far as I can tell.
I received the following from the Washington State Department of Commerce regarding extended availability of Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the federal Small Business Administration:
The Washington State Department of Commerce want businesses in our state to know that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has amended its original disaster declaration to apply to all Washington small businesses, regardless of county. These low-interest loans for working capital are now available to any small businesses suffering economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak. ...Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the COVID-19. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75%. ...
The SBA lists the following additional information about these loans on their website:
Substantial economic injury means the business is unable to meet its obligations and to pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses. EIDLs provide the necessary working capital to help small businesses survive until normal operations resume after a disaster.
I am compiling a list of court closure orders and other related information on this page for client reference. It is important to check with me, or check with your attorney if I do not represent you, before you rely on this information. All virus-related closures are an extremely fluid process that change sometimes hourly or daily. Again, do not rely on information simply because you saw it online.
Washington State Supreme Court
The Washington State Supreme Court issued a sweeping State-wide order related to court process, continuances through at least April 24 2020 with some exceptions, speedy trial waiver orders, and more. It is highly recommended that you read the full 8 page order. It should be noted that the Supreme Court's order most likely trumps any conflicting language in trial court orders. However, most or all of the current local trial court orders EXPAND on the Supreme Court language rather than conflict it, so these orders likely act in concert with each other. Again, it is important to consult with an attorney on your exact situation.
Kittitas County Superior Court
No jury trials will be held until May 2020 and most hearings will be continued. This is a wide-sweeping order that covers all kinds of cases within Superior Court, including criminal, juvenile, and civil cases. As such, I recommend you read the order itself rather than a summary. Non-essential matters will likely not be heard until after at least May 3, 2020. Essential matters are recommended to be agreed and/or heard via telephone until at least May 4, 2020.
Kittitas County Lower District Court (Ellensburg)
The Court continued all hearings and trials until further notice. Infractions will be heard electronically or by writing. The Court Administrator summarized this order as follows:
Kittitas Country Upper District Court (Cle Elum)
Most criminal hearings, including trials, are cancelled until further notice unless the matter is for a protection orders, domestic violence case or a DUI-related case. Infractions will be held via phone if an attorney is involved. The Court Administrator summarized this order as follows:
Again, it is really important that you check with me or another attorney before relying on the above information, as it may have changed since I posted this. I am going to do my best to update this information as things change, but I may not be able to do so immediately. Do not rely on it alone when making a decision as to what you should or shouldn’t do. That’s why we have attorneys.
Clients typically ask how court works. I created this flow chart to show you how I expect a typical criminal charge will make its way through the court system, be it in Kittitas County or Yakima County. This is based on my experience working on an approximated 10,000 criminal cases within our Washington State court system. Every case is different, so this is just a model. Your case might be able to skip certain steps, or we might build extra steps in...it all depends on your case.
It is also important to note that DUI cases contain multiple extra steps regarding your Department of Licensing hearing process. That process is called an "administrative" process, so it is not done directly through the criminal court. It is instead handled in its own arena (and therefore, I did not include it here).
The Washington State Legislature made many big changes to how Washington State evictions work. These changes are effective July 28, 2019. You need to make sure that you follow these rules when proceeding with an unlawful detainer (eviction) case. Feel free to call my office, as I do many of these cases each year. I aim to charge landlords an affordable fee in these cases. By hiring a lawyer, you can make sure the process is followed legally and procedurally.
Up until July 27, 2019: if a tenant fell behind on rent (even by one day), the landlord would give them a “3 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate.” If the tenant couldn’t pay all the rent within 3 days, the landlord could file an eviction lawsuit against them. The landlord did not have to accept partial payment or payment plans.
Previously, once an eviction lawsuit started, most tenants could not stay—even if they could pay the landlord all the back-rent, late fees, and attorney fees that they owed. Now, more tenants will be able to pay back the rent they owe. More tenants will be able to pay to avoid eviction and homelessness.
Previously, landlords could take a tenant’s rent payments and apply them towards other kinds of “non-rent” charges – late fees, disputed repair bills, other kinds of one-time penalties. Now, landlords must apply a tenant’s rent payments towards rent (and some regular, monthly utility payments) first.
Previously, even if a tenant lost an eviction lawsuit by default (because they weren’t able to respond in time or because they were not able to show up), the landlord could still collect attorneys’ fees from them through an eviction judgment.
A landlord still must use “due diligence” to personally hand eviction papers to a tenant in person at home. Previously, if that didn’t work, the landlord had to get a judge’s permission to serve eviction papers by taping on the door and mailing. Now, after 3 diligent attempts (over 2 days) to serve a tenant in person, some landlords may be able to post and mail eviction papers without a judge’s permission.
Tony Swartz is an experienced lawyer in Washington State. He has handled, start to finish, over 10,000 criminal cases. He has also dealt with various types of civil cases, including administrative law hearings, Superior Court cases, District Court cases, and more. He also has advised clients in transactional matters spanning topics such as business law, nonprofit law, and property law.