Washington Pardon/Expungement Process

The process for clemency and pardons in Washington State is done through the state board of pardons, a group appointed by the current governor. They offer only a governor’s pardon and the governor is the final voice in the matter. They only hear cases that have been finalized in all court proceedings including the appeals process. An individual may only apply for a pardon once in a three year period in regards to the same conviction. Exceptions may be made if new information pertaining to the case is received.

Before being sent to a hearing each petition is given a preliminary review to determine eligibility and to ensure proper documentation. The petitioner will receive notice on the determination of the preliminary review committee.

The board of pardons holds quarterly hearings in the months of March, June, September, and December. These are open to the public. The petitioner and other involved parties may speak at the hearing. If the petitioner is incarcerated, they may arrange to make a statement by telephone.

In regards to the restoration of voting rights, it is done automatically by the department of corrections upon completion of all sentence requirements. A certificate of discharge is then provided to the petitioner through the sentencing court, and effectively restores all civil rights. The petitioner must then register to vote unless the crime occurred prior to 1984.

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