How to Check for Washington Criminal Records

Washington’s State Patrol handles all background checks and criminal records for the state. They process everything using fingerprints. They offer you three ways of obtaining someone’s criminal records; online, through the mail and in person. Using their Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) system will cost $12 per file. You can also request a notarized copy for an additional $10. If your order by mail or in person, the fee is $16 per record, plus $38 for processing the fingerprint card.

Washington criminal records online

Federal Records vs. Court Criminal Records in Washington

The Washington court system has a website where the general public can go to search for federal, state, local and appellate court records. Using just a name search, you can find cases and download all the publicly accessible documents related to it. You can search using someone’s name, their case number or business name. A single search will show you all their criminal and court-related records in one place. There is no need to go anywhere else for other documents, but you can always use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system as well.


How Long do Felony or Misdemeanor Charges Last?

Felonies and misdemeanors will stay on your record indefinitely if you do not request to have them expunged or sealed. First, if you are found “not guilty” you still must wait two years after the dismissal of your case to apply to have your records expunged. If no charges were filed, you have to wait three years. You must contact the Washington State Patrol to apply. For other convictions, you can petition to have them “vacated” but only after 5-10 years. Some crimes like DUIs can never be vacated and will stay on your criminal record forever.


Who Can Lookup your Criminal Background?

Law enforcement, government agencies, and the general public all have access to your criminal records. Law enforcement agencies can see the entire file. The public will see only convictions and arrests less than a year old. They can also see sex offenses if there are any present.


Why Check Someone’s Filed Criminal Charges?

You can’t be too careful these days, and that is why more and more people are using criminal background checks before they go into business with someone, or start dating them. Other good reasons for taking a peek at someone’s criminal past is before issuing permits or renting property to them.


Types of Criminal Records

Criminal records vary from state to state, but almost all of them include basic information like name, address, phone, date of birth, gender, race, height, weight, and date of arrest. They also list each crime, the status, court disposition and any jail time. Sometimes you will also see mug shot and fingerprints too.


How Are WA Criminal Records Created?

From the time you are arrested, your criminal record begins. Every document that is filled out along your way through the justice system becomes a part of your criminal record. Law enforcement agents are the ones responsible for filling them out and filing them into the record.