Question: What does your criminal record look like if you have been arrested, meaning fingerprinted and either administratively or literally booked for an offense but not convicted, either it got dismissed or did not get charged. Answer: Your FBI record is still going to reflect the case information as well as the arrest data. The file in the video is from Google Images, because I’m not even showing my client’s redacted stuff.
But essentially, an arrest will still come back on the FBI file with the arresting data, the agency, and the change. Then it will have court data, maybe it will say dismissed on date. In order to remove that information from your FBI file, I work with clients in Washington State to expunge their arrest record, which removes the record from the Washington State Patrol non-conviction database as well as the FBI database, so that when an FBI report is run, it says your date of birth and name and says that there is no information for you.
So, that is the process to get your FBI record cleaned up if you have an arrest on your record. People do this for immigration, travel, employment, security clearances. My office helps people with this in Washington State only.
Gen X got a bad deal when it comes to criminal records. One thing I have noticed in my practice is that people born in the 70s and late 60s did not seem to get as fair of a shake when it comes to criminal records. I think there are a few things at play: the combination of record really sticking and lasting in the information era combined with the really tough on crime policies from the 80s and 90s.
When I pull a lot of 90s cases, I don’t see deals. I see really harsh mandatory sentences. I see $30,000 restitution bills. It wasn’t a terribly empathetic period. The combination of youthfulness, the permanency of criminal records, as well as the attitude in time that we really need to be tough on crime has led to people not only being significantly punished at the time but not being able to shake the punishment of their criminal record.
The good news is that most of those cases are eligible to be expunged, vacated, or sealed. Even cases that have an outstanding financial obligation, those $30,000 restitution bills, if it was before the year 2000, that is the cutoff then even the finds are forgivable. I’ve also found that prosecutors and judges are really showing a lot more kindness and empathy especially in terms of those really disproportionately severe sentences.
This is a blog post about criminal records related to the prostitution stings in Bellevue that happened primarily in 2017 but are continuing to happen. “Operation On Demand” in 2017 saw the arrest of more than 100 men who were subsequently prosecuted for patronizing a prostitute in a sting style operation.
On those cases, a number of individuals wrapped their case early either as pleas of guilty or a deferred sentence, which is entered as a guilty plea and still needs to be vacated. A little while later they realized what they referred to as a technicality. I think a rights violation is a more reasonable characterization. It resulted in the dismissal of the remaining 61 cases.
However, having the arrest record for patronizing a prostitute can still be damaging. If you have a conviction or entered a deferral for patronizing a prostitute and you paid all your fines, complied with all your terms and conditions and at least 3 years have passed since you wrapped it all up, including a deferred sentence for patronizing a prostitute, those still need to be vacated in order to come off your record. Many of those are eligible at this point.
For those individuals who do not have a conviction but have the arrest on their record, depending on if you have any prior or subsequent cases, you may be able to expunge that arrest as sufficient time has likely passed. Feel free to give my office a call either way, (206) 222-8829.
Marijuana has been in the news again with President Biden’s recent pardon of marijuana cases and those people with a marijuana criminal record might want to know how that may impact them. So the kind of ironic twinge to it is that most possession of marijuana crimes, simple possession of marijuana crimes would not be federal because federal involves the commerce between states. So, the federal marijuana pardon is not going to apply to state cases where the majority of simple arrests for possession happen.
However, Washington, a couple years back did our own version of that and now all marijuana offenses are eligible to vacated as long as they are possession based. Also, most drug offenses for drugs more serious than marijuana are eligible to vacated without the normal hoops that come with it based on as similar process that happened in our state. So, if you are wondering about your marijuana or drug conviction in Washington State, pleases feel free to give my office a call. (206) 222-8829.
This is related to the unique Seattle Municipal charge that is Sexual Exploitation. First of all, a word about the charge, it used to be titled Patronizing a Prostitute and by naming it Sexual Exploitation it arguably sounds worse than it is and can charge people that have been charged with this or convicted of this to face undue prejudice.
Essentially, what the act is agreeing to some sort of a sex act for money. And there were numerous stings in the in the 20 teens where hundreds of people were arrested for, allegedly, agreeing to hand jobs in massage parlors and branded essentially with this charge, Sexual Exploitation, that can incite a lot of unfair prejudice given what the alleged act actually was and the nature of that.
If you have faced that charge if you have that on your record, you may be wondering what you can do about it. So, those cases resolved a couple of different ways. Some people were convicted, either by a straight conviction or a deferral, which is where the case gets dismissed after a period of time. A deferral and a conviction they both still need to be vacated to come off your record and the charge is eligible 3 years from when you complete all the terms and conditions of your sentence, including fines and probation or when it gets dismissed.
Alternatively, a lot of those cases resulted in dismissals, if that was the case, it may be eligible for expungement of the arrest, which is a process with the Washington State Patrol. Either way, feel free to give my office a call at (206)222-8829.
A deferred sentence, essentially, you stay out of trouble for a period of time and do what other things are asked of you, sometimes it’s treatment and then the case gets dismissed, maybe after a year or two years. But what does that look like from a post-conviction perspective?
The tricky thing about a deferred sentence is that yes, it does dismiss the case, but the original conviction remains until you vacate that original conviction. So, it’s not enough to just have it be dismissed, it still shows on your Washington State conviction record as conviction on this date, little note at the bottom, dismissed deferred on this date.
I help clients with these records take the additional step of vacating the original conviction, which completely clears it from the Washington State Patrol WATCH, or conviction report, and you can officially state for all purposes, including housing and employment, that you have not been convicted of the crime. So, if you have a deferred sentence that is still holding you back as a prior conviction feel free to give my office a call.
When the Washington State Supreme Court, in State v. Blake, invalidated ever drug possession conviction ever because the law was illegal, they also required that the courts refund people any legal financial obligations they may have paid under the unfair drug statues they were convicted under. Hi my name is attorney Stefanie Dorn, I’m an expungement lawyer in Washington, and I almost didn’t believe it either until my client got their first check in the mail with a full refund for all the legal financial obligations they have paid.
It is a progressive area of law; it is getting much more progressive. People have paid thousands and thousands of dollars, it’s amazing the amount of court fees that are associated with any criminal charge, and the courts have specifically allocated money to this, and the process can even pay for itself sometimes. So, if you have any questions or would like to talk more about a refund of your legal financial obligations, please give my office a call. Thank you.
So, how can you save money by arguing your bills. My name is Stefanie Dorn, I’m an attorney out of Washington State, and I’m going to give you some tips on how you can negotiate your bills. First tip is talk to a person. When you call, when you have a representative on the phone, you can more clearly explain and persuade.
Second tip, ask if there is the option of a payment plan. We usually know this tip and that you can ask for that and they will let you pay slow, but my trick is right after you ask that question, say, and what is the discount for payment in full. Because by setting up that they have the option of a payment plan you’ve set yourself up to present them with a better option, well I can just take care of it upfront but how about thirty percent off the top, and you would be surprised how often, even with bills that aren’t huge-huge, companies are willing to take a substantial cut for payment in full.
My next tip is to break down the bill into sections so that you really know what they are charging you for and what you can argue for. So take some time to really go into and ask them, what do you mean a surcharge, a charge for my service, isn’t that your job? Things along those lines that you are going to be more comfortable with the more familiar you are with all the different charges on there. My final tip is that it can’t hurt to ask and just ask nicely, and there can be a lot of flexibility.
Mandatory arrest laws in Washington State have created many situations where police office arrive at the scene maybe they are faced with a victim that is emotional, maybe they see defensive wounds such as scratches on the perpetrator and the police make the wrong call and they arrest the victim. Then the victim has to answer to the domestic violence allegations. The law has recognized the situation and just as of July of 2020 has changed the vacate statue to give victims of domestic violence a lot more leeway and flexibility in terms of vacating the convictions that were essentially weaponized against them as another tool by their abuser.
So, how this works is that the court has relaxed the process for vacating, that means taking away the conviction, on cases where the defendant is a victim of domestic violence. It’s something that you work on with your attorney, generally including declarations describing the situation anything supportive along those lines and then it gets sent to the prosecutor for review and goes from there. This is a really positive trend in essentially trying to recognize that the domestic violence rules could have gone a little too far sometimes with the mandatory arrests and the consequences of that.
Anyone that has ever been involved in the criminal justice system it is a lot of $100 here, $300 there, $600 there. It adds up quite a bit, and a lot of times these outstanding financial obligations are what get in the way of people sealing their record, vacating their record, or otherwise just moving past it. So, if you are somebody that is looking at an extraordinary amount of debt to the court, the first thing I always say is consistency is key. You want to make consistent payment of what you can afford, at the very minimum.
I’ve had clients that have paid $10 a month for 3 years on very-very large bills and made little dents in them, but based on that payment history, the prosecutor was willing to waive the interest and she waived part of the principal, so there is a lot of flexibility in terms of the interest especially. So, if you are looking at a heavy restitution bill, give an attorney a call because there might be some flexibility in those numbers, and they might be able to help you move past it. My name is Stefanie Dorn, and you can give my office a call if you like.