What Defines a Criminal Record in Washington?
A criminal record is defined as an official document that records a person’s criminal history. The information is assembled and updated from local, county and state jurisdictions, trial courts, courts of appeals as well as county and state correctional facilities. The standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, but the majority of Washington criminal records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report. This report is accessed through a number of courts, police departments and the official Washington State Records Online Database. The amount of criminal records information presented on StateRecords.org will vary from individual to individual as well as what resources were used to collect the information, because different sources often have non-standardized state level protocols, storage classifications, requirements, organization and digitization processes. Criminal records in the state of Washington generally include the following subjects:
Washington Arrest Records
An arrest record is an official document providing information regarding a person that has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody, placed in detention, held for investigation and/or charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor or other offense by any law enforcement or military authority. In Washington, a person can be arrested once they commit a misdemeanor amounting to as minor of an act as a breach of the peace or they commit a felony where there are reasonable grounds to believe they committed the crime.
Washington Arrest Warrants
An arrest warrant is an official document that is signed and issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state jurisdictions, which authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warrant or to search and seize the individual’s property. In Washington, the police can arrest a person for committing a crime even without a warrant, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=10.31.100
. In most cases, this occurs when the person commits the crime in an officer’s presence.
A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense and is generally less severe than felonies; however, like felonies, a misdemeanor charge is categorized by a number-based system designed to describe the severity of the alleged crime. In Washington, misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to one year in county or local jail and are classified as misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9a.20.021
. Gross misdemeanors in Washington are punishable by up to 364 days in county jail, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A misdemeanor is a the least serious type of crime in Washington, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A felony offense is a criminal conviction with a maximum sentence of more than 1 year, which is to be served in a county jail or state prison. In some cases, a felony conviction can even be punished by death. Felonies in Washington are crimes punishable by imprisonment in state prison. Felonies are designated as class A, B, or C, http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9a.20.021
.Class A felonies are the most serious ones, punishable by up to life in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both a fine and imprisonment. Class C felonies are the least serious in Washington, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Washington Sex Offender Listing
A sex offender listing is a registry of persons who were convicted of committing a sex crime that is often accessible by the public. In most cases, jurisdictions compile their laws into sections, such as traffic, assault and sexual. Judges are given discretion as to whether they require registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law, http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.44.130
. A judge may order an adult to register as a sex offender if the crime they were convicted of involves sexual motivation.
Washington Serious Traffic Violation
A serious traffic violation tends to involve willful disregard for public safety, death, serious bodily injury, damage to property and multiple minor traffic violations. The WA Department of Licensing does not have a point system for traffic violations, but too many traffic violations on the driving record or a major violation could suspend the offender driving license.
Washington Conviction Records
A conviction record is an official document providing information that a person was found guilty, pleaded guilty or pleaded nolo contendere against criminal charges in a civilian or military court. The criminal charges can be classified as a felony, misdemeanor or other offense. Conviction also includes when a person has been judged delinquent, has been less than honorably discharged or has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment that was deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed or otherwise rendered inoperative.
Washington Jail and Inmate Records
Jail and inmate records are official documents of information about a person’s current and sometimes past inmate status. A person who is in jail or considered an inmate is someone who has been deprived of their civil liberties and is on trial for a crime or is serving, which maintains an inmate database that is often searchable online a prison sentence after being convicted of a crime. Most states have a Department of Corrections, http://www.doc.wa.gov/
. These records often include the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected release date, convicted offense and sometimes photos.
Washington Parole Information
Parole records are an official document that includes information regarding the release of a prisoner who agreed to certain conditions prior to completion of their maximum sentence. While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board shall require as a condition of parole that they pay a monthly supervision fee of not less than $30, unless the board agrees to accept a lower fee after determining inability of the prisoner to pay. The board may also impose any conditions of parole it deems appropriate in order to ensure the best interests of the prisoner and the citizens of Washington are served.
Washington Probation Records
Probation records are official documents that show when a person receives probation as an alternative to prison. Probation allows people convicted of a crime in Washington to serve their sentences out of custody, as long as they comply with probation conditions imposed by the judge and probation officer http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.95.210
. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differs (sometimes drastically) from case to case. Probation typically falls into three categories: minimally supervised, supervised and intensive – intensive is a form of very strict probation that has conditions that vary from state to state but that emphasize punishment and control of the offender within the community.
Washington Juvenile Criminal Records
A juvenile criminal record is an official record of information regarding criminal activity committed by children or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not considered to be convicted of a crime like an adult but instead are found to be “adjudicated delinquent.”These criminal records are often mistakenly thought to be erased or expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, but in fact the record remains unless the person petitions to have it expunged. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.
Washington History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The accuracy of the data of criminal records depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. Washington criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s when criminal and arrest data started to be centralized and compiled into an organized database much like we use today. Accuracy was more commonly affected by human error in the past, but in the 1990s the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of the computer, so the information provide on StateRecords.org will vary from person to person.
Washington Megan’s Law
Megan's Law is the term for state laws that create and maintain a sex offender registry, which provides information on registered sex offenders to the public. The first Megan's Law appeared after the rape and murder of 7-year-old New Jersey resident Megan Kanka by a sex offender who lived in the girl's own neighborhood. Soon after passage of this first Megan's Law, the federal government implemented a requirement that all states establish sex offender registries and provide the public with information about those registered, http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.44.130
. Any adult who has been found to have committed or has been convicted of any sex offense or kidnapping offense, or who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of committing any sex offense or kidnapping offense must register.