Searching for a criminal record in the state of Washington is accessible, easy, and convenient. As in all states, Washington maintains certain government related documents available for public inspection. As all public record searches, for the most accurate results, you need to have accurate information about the individual you are looking up.
In Washington, criminal records are maintained by the Washington state patrol and have the right to establish the fees for the distribution of the criminal records.
The revised Code of Washington
The state of Washington utilizes the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) which is “a compilation of all permanent laws now in force.” It provides a convenient and understandable way to view many legislative decisions such as the public records act and the criminal records act; and, time should be taken to understand what is included within WA criminal records system.
On the Washington state legislature site, you can view the Washington state criminal records privacy act, which is Chapter 10.97 of the RCW. According to this act, a criminal history record means—
“Information contained in records collected by criminal justice agencies, other than courts, on individuals, consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, informations, or other formal criminal charges, and any disposition arising therefrom, including acquittals by reason of insanity, dismissals based on lack of competency, sentences, correctional supervision, and release.”
The “term” criminal history record information, includes information about an individual as maintained by criminal justice agencies, and the individuals “involvement in the criminal justice system as an alleged or convicted offender.” There are a number of exceptions as to what is included in the criminal history record information, such as a traffic violation where the individual served less then 90 days or where the individual was not convicted.
There is also section within this chapter that deals with restricted and unrestricted portions of criminal records. “Conviction records may be disseminated without restriction” is the language used and means that there are some requirements as to whom it may be “disseminated” to and for what purposes—the information will become public in exchange for information and a fee. Moreover, criminal justice agencies, or anyone who gives out this information, is required to keep records of the dissemination. They must: 1) show to whom (agency or person) the information was given out , 2) the date on which it was given, 3) whom the information was about, and lastly 4) a description about the information given to.
The only instance where criminal record information may be deleted is in non-conviction cases and only after two years when the record “became non-conviction data.” Obviously, if something occurred during this two year time period where an individual was convicted of some crime or violated a parole, this would no longer apply. At other times, a court may decide what is appropriate or necessary to make a criminal record available or unavailable.
Check yourself out
If you are looking to gather information about yourself, perhaps to prepare for a job interview that you are expect to run such a check on you or call such a check into question, you may request to see criminal records but would not be able to see any information on their report with regards to information that may be contained in “intelligence, investigative, or other files.” In short, their criminal record history information would only contain information as defined in the RCW Chapter 10.97.
Information that is considered confidential and not available for public inspection is information concerning children under the age of 18 who were victims of sexual assault; unless, the child or legal guardian permits the release of this information.
As mentioned above, the Washington state patrol (WSP) maintains a criminal records database for the state. All government agencies and courts are required to submit the appropriate criminal records to the WSP for inclusion in the “criminal history record information” database. Only certified criminal justice agencies have unrestricted access to this database, for the public, it is restricted to accessing records that include convictions only.
The WSP provides two ways to request criminal record information; online and through the mail. By accessing the WATCH website, you can either search online for an individual, or download it and fill out forms before they are mailed to the WSP offices. There is a basic fee of $10 for every name search. Other searches or searches using fingerprints cost more.
The cost of mailing in a form is $17 and requires that you know at least the name, birth date and possibly any aliases used. The only way they can match up your request one hundred percent is by submitting fingerprints, which also have a price tag. You will also have to submit some information about yourself. They also note that the person requesting the document is required to provide a copy of the information to the person being searched which can include a possible requirement of a notarized letter.
For a more public and possibly easier access to public records, including criminal records, you can visit Washington Public Record.com which allows you to search for a number of public records with just the name of the individual you’re searching for.
If you simply want to view a court record, and not a criminal record, it is also possible to do this by contacting the court where the case was filed; but, you can only view a criminal record by contacting the Washington state patrol.
Remember that many sites out there will also offer to find criminal records for you, and can include a hefty fee. Doing your research and finding an accurate background checker is worth the extra money, especially when you want someone else to do all the work. But, for a plan A, the state of Washington provides a good way to access this information, and is a good place to start.
Categories: State News and Tips