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What is a Washington Criminal Record?

Criminal records in Washington, also known as rap sheets, are official documents describing criminal activities of individuals within the state. These records include arrest data, dispositions, and conviction information. There are different types of criminal records and these are prepared by different local and state law enforcement agencies, courts, and detention facilities.

Are Criminal Records Public in Washington?

Yes, criminal records are public records in Washington. As per the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), criminal records are public records since they were created and maintained by law enforcement agencies in the state. The only exceptions are those that have been sealed, expunged or expressly restricted by the law. Information provided in a Washington criminal record include:

  • Full name of the subject as well as all known aliases
  • Date of birth, gender, race/ethnicity, and other unique personal details
  • A complete set of fingerprints and the subject’s mugshot
  • Details of previous and current indictments
  • Subject’s arrest records and outstanding warrants
  • Subject’s Conviction data

 

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How to Obtain Criminal Records in Washington?

Washington public criminal records are accessible by all members of the public, according to the FOIA. The digitization of criminal records has made it easy for the public to access the on demand court records online. In Washington, a requester can perform a criminal record search via the office of the clerk of the various trial courts. Alternatively, a search can be done at the State's Department of Police or at the office of the county sheriff. It is important to take note that though a requester may not find a free public criminal record check service, it is possible to find a cost effective public search in Washington.

What are Washington Arrest Records?

In Washington, arrest records are official documents prepared by the State's Department of Police or other law enforcement agencies providing details of arrests. These records are made when individuals are taken into custody following their alleged involvement in crimes. Such arrests may occur during the course of police investigations or after officers directly observe criminal activities. While arrest records provide details of the apprehension and detention, they are not proof of culpability or indictment. They are only included in criminal records when such arrests are followed by indictments or court hearings. Not all arrests result in detention. In some cases, Washington law enforcement officers may arrest individuals just to ticket them or bring them in for questioning. Details contained in a Washington arrest record include:

  • Description of the alleged crime or cause for the arrest
  • Arrestee’s name, gender, birth date, and other identifying personal information
  • Date and place of the arrest
  • Identity of the arresting officer
  • Location of the detention center or jail where arrestee is held
  • Name of the official that issued the arrest warrant

Arrest records are only one of several police records compiled when an individual has an interaction with law enforcement. Police records include warrants, arrest records, incident reports, sex offender information, and logs of police activities.

Are Washington Arrest Records Public?

Yes, Washington arrest records are open and available for public viewing according to the FOIA. Public arrest records are generated by local and state law enforcement agencies. Free arrest can be obtained through the official record custodian, typically the agencies that perform the arrest. Arrest records are also available online through the county Sheriff’s website arrest search tools.

What is a Washington Arrest Warrant?

In Washington, courts issue arrest warrants. These are official orders authorizing designated law enforcement officials to arrest named individuals. Judges and magistrates issue arrest warrants in Washington. To obtain such a warrant from a sitting judge, a law enforcement officer or district attorney must come before a judge and show probable cause. Unless otherwise stated, arrest warrants are only valid for a stated period of time.

An arrest warrant in Washington typically should provide the following details:

  • Name and other personal information subject of the warrant
  • Details of the alleged criminal offense or probable cause for the arrest
  • Where and when the arrest may take place
  • An expiry date if the warrant has a validity period
  • Name of the warrant issuer and date of issue
  • Bail/bond conditions, if applicable

Although Washington does not have a central, statewide warrant search database, it is possible to find this information through local agencies. Parties can also run an active warrant search through the national databases from DEA Fugitive Search tool or the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System.

It is also possible for a state or local law enforcement officer to make an arrest without a warrant in Washington. This should only happen when the arresting officer witnessed the crime and/or has probable cause to make an arrest.

What are Misdemeanors in Washington?

Washington misdemeanors are considered lesser or less serious crimes in the state of Washington. These contrast with felonies that are considered more serious. Misdemeanors charges in Washington state do not exceed 1 year in prison or jail, but do often have fines and other punishments like community service. Repeat misdemeanor can eventually result in more serious punishments or even an upgrade to a felony. There are only 2 types of misdemeanor in Washington which are known as gross (the more serious) and simple (the less serious) misdemeanors.

Gross misdemeanors have a maximum jail time of 364 days and a maximum fine of up to $5,000. Common gross misdemeanors examples include; DUIs, hit and runs, domestic assault and severe reckless driving incidents.Simple misdemeanors have a maximum jail time of 90 days and a maximum fine of $1,000. Common misdemeanors include petty theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing, vandalism, and possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana.

What are Felonies in Washington?

In Washington, felonies are serious crimes punished by imprisonment in state prisons. Unlike misdemeanors, Washington felony charges do attract prison terms longer than one year. Felony sentences may also include fines. There are three classes of felonies in Washington. The most serious ones are in Class A while the least serious felonies are categorized under Class C. Beyond these, there is aggravated first-degree murder. This crime sits above Class A felonies and may be punished by the death penalty.

  • Class A felonies are punished by a maximum life term in prison, fines up to $50,000, or both. Washington puts more rapes in this category
  • Class B felonies are punished by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine amount of $20,000, or both. Theft of property valued above $5,000 is an example of a Class B felony
  • Class C felonies are punished by up to five years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both. An example of Class C felonies is the third-degree assault of a child

Washington Sex Offender Registry

The Washington sex offender registery are registries for sex offenders that are maintained by local law enforcement agencies in the state. While local law enforcement agencies register sex offenders in their jurisdiction, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs maintain a statewide database containing sex offender records collated from local law enforcement. To see a complete listing of sex offenders in the state, search the Washington state sex offender registry. The megan’s law in Washington has also made it compulsory for all sex offender to register at the state of national sex offender registry.

There are three sex offender levels in Washington. Level I offenders are the least likely to re-offend and are excluded from the publicly accessible Washington State Sex Offender Registry. However, this listing includes information about out of compliance and transient Level I offenders. Level II offenders pose moderate risk while Level III offenders are most likely to re-offend. Washinton’s sex offender regsitry lists all Level II and III offenders.

The passage of Megan’s law and its federal adoption inspired other states to sign into law their versions of Megan's law. In Washington, convicted sex offenders in Washington must register within 24 hours of release or within 3 days of establishing residency or moving into a new county. Washington requires registered sex offenders to regularly verify their addresses. Level I offenders may do so every year but Level II and III offenders must verify their addresses every 90 days.

What is a DUI in Washington?

A Washington DUI (driving under the influence) is a serious traffic violation. Other serious traffic violations in the state of Washington include speeding, negligent driving, tailgating, failure to stop/yield right of way, and reckless endangerment of road workers. Washington state DUI law defines a DUI as a person operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, mairjuana, or any other mind-altering substance. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher constitutes a DUI charge in Washington. Drivers with a THC concentration of 5 or higher will also face DUI charges.

In addition to possible court-ordered punishments, the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) may also suspend the licenses of repeat offenders. The DOL suspends the licenses of motorists with six moving violations within a 12-month period or seven moving violations in a 24-month period. Such license suspensions last for 60 days followed by a 1-year probation period. Getting a ticket for a moving violation during the probation period leads to a 30-day license suspension and the restart of the probation period.

What are Washington Inmate Records?

Washington inmate records are described as the official documents providing details on inmates’ incarceration and release from these facilities. These records also establish the identities and locations of incarcerated individuals.Washington jail records refer to documents detailing the operations of various detention and correctional facilities in the state. These include state prisons as well as county and city jails.

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) oversees the operations of all state prisons and work release facilities. To search for inmate information, use the agency’s Inmate Search tool. Local jails are administered by the various sheriff’s offices and police departments in the counties and cities of Washington. For inmate and jail records for these local detention centers, a requester can look up the various local law enforcement by visiting or calling them.

A Washington inmate record contains the following details:

  • The full name of the inmate including known aliases
  • Identifying personal data such as gender, race, height, scars etc.
  • Full set of inmate’s fingerprints and mugshot
  • Details of crime(s) committed by the convicted inmate
  • Date of incarceration, eligibility for early release, and projected release date
  • Location of the detention/correctional facility housing the inmate
  • Details of past convictions and sentences served

Where to get Washington Parole Information

The Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) handles parole and probation in the Washington correctional system. The parole board functions as a quasi-judicial board that works with the Washington DOC to guide inmates against parole violation. Use the Inmate Data Search tool to find some information about parolees in the state. For additional parole information, submit a public records request to the ISRB. Use the Board’s Electronic Request Portal to send in the request. Alternatively, send a mail request to:

Department of Corrections Public Records Office
P.O. Box 41118 
Olympia, WA 98504-1118

Make sure to include the parolee’s name, date of request, and records requested.

What are Washington Probation Records?

Washington probation records describe details of suspended sentences served outside correctional facilities. Individuals placed on probation are convicted for established crimes but serve their sentences outside prisons and jails. Probation is best described as supervised freedom, with a probation officer attached to each probationer. The probation officer monitors the probationer and reports any kind of probation violation. A complete probation record identifies the convict’s identity and describes the indictment leading to the sentencing including the convict’s criminal offense, date of the judgment, and terms of probation. The Washington DOC maintains probation records and may provide them to the public upon request.

What are Washington Juvenile Criminal Records?

Washington juvenile criminal records provide details of criminal activities of persons regarded as minors (under 18 years). While Washington does not try juveniles as adults, their criminal records still include details of arrests, indictments, judgments, adjudications, and probation. The Washington legal code does not recognize juvenile delinquency and some juvenile criminal records may be accessible to the public. For example, juvenile adjudication records are just as accessible as adult conviction records. Similarly, Washington juvenile records do not disappear when juveniles turn 18. To prevent public access to these records, former juveniles must ask the court to seal those records.’

What are Washington Conviction Records?

Washington conviction records are official court documents describing the convictions of individuals found guilty of crimes. These records are prepared after indicted persons have submitted their pleas, had their hearings, and are adjudged guilty of the crime for which they are charged. Conviction records may arise from infraction, misdemeanor, or felony charges. They are rendered by juries or judges in non-jury trials. Washington conviction records include the final judgements of guilty parties. Following their trials, they may be placed on probation, fined, imprisoned, or paroled. Conviction records for pardoned convicts and judgements set aside or reversed do not include final judgments.

Washington History and Accuracy of Criminal Records

Before computer systems were used for recordkeeping, Washington state and local courts, law enforcement agencies, and detention facilities kept records on paper. Keeping records on paper means writing or typing them out. Therefore, they are more prone to human error than electronic records. Similarly, paper records are easier to lose and deteriorate with time. Electronic records, on the other hand, can be kept in multiple locations and are easier to retrieve and access. These differences make electronic criminal records more accurate.

 

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