The information provided by this website, and in the linked documents is not legal advice. These documents are intended only to provide information to help guide you and provide a starting point for finding additional resources that may help you. The information on this website is not a substitute for and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney.
Civil Survival has done our best to verify that the information in these documents is accurate, but we can make no claim as to the accuracy of the information and are not responsible for what happens as a result of following the information in these documents.You should not and are not authorized to rely on this website as a source of legal advice. The use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between Civil Survival or the Public Defender Association and any user.
National Reentry Guide
Info: The nation’s primary source of information and guidance in reentry.
State Reentry Guide
Info: Find answers to common questions about reentry from experts in Washington state law.
PDF (printable) version: http://sustainabilityinprisons.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/WA-Appleseed-Reentry-Guide.pdf
What is child support?
Child support is money that a non-custodial parent (a parent that the child does not live with most of the time) pays to the custodial parent (the parent the child lives with) to help provide for the needs of the child.
How do I know what I have to pay in child support?
What you have to pay will be set forth in a child support order from a court or the Division of Child Support (“DCS”). In most cases, the child support order states that the child support payment should be sent to the Washington State Support Registry (“WSSR”). WSSR then sends the payment to the custodial parent.
How does the child support process before DCS work?
A Support Enforcement Officer (“SEO”) of DCS will gather information about the income of the parents and use it to calculate a proposed child support amount. That calculation is sent to the parties in a “Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility.” If nobody objects to that notice, it becomes a legally enforceable child support order. If you do not agree with the amount of child support that has been calculated, you must object by contacting the SEO by telephone or in writing. A hearing will then be set before an Administrative Law Judge who will decide the final child support amount.
How is the amount of child support I owe determined?
Monthly child support amounts are based on both parties’ incomes and the number of children to be supported using the Washington State Child Support Schedule, available on the Washington Court Forms website: https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=73.
What happens if I don’t pay child support?
If you don’t make your required child support payments, DCS can have your wages garnished, your driver’s license revoked and/or take your property. DCS also can refer your case to the county prosecutor, which could result in jail time.
What should I do if I am served with legal papers concerning child support?
Do not ignore them! It is very important that you open and read them as soon as possible. This will give you the most time to respond to whatever you receive. If you do not respond, a “default order” giving the other party everything it asks for may be entered. The paperwork you receive will include your deadline to respond.
Instructions and forms for responding to a petition to modify child support order are available at Washington Law Help: https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/issues/family-law/child-support.
Instructions and forms for responding to a motion to adjust child support order are available at Washington Law Help: https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/issues/family-law/child-support.
Do I have a right to free legal help for my child support case?
No, you do not have a right to a free attorney to represent you in child support hearings. If you do not have an attorney, contact a family law facilitator at your local superior court. While they can’t give you legal advice, they can help you fill out the required forms. Facilitators may charge a fee, but low income individuals can request that the fee be deferred or waived. To find a court facilitator, visit http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/?fa=court_dir.facils.
If my child support order was modified during my incarceration, what happens once I am released?
Read your support order. Sometimes when an order is modified because the noncustodial parent is in prison, the order will say that support obligations automatically go back to the old amount once you are released. Otherwise, you should expect that the custodial parent or DCS may start a modification action.
What happens if I can’t find work after I am released?
Keep in touch with DCS. While your support obligation doesn’t go away just because you aren’t working, telling DCS that you are looking for work can help you avoid having your license suspended or your case referred to the prosecutor (and potential jail time).
Consider applying for DCS’s Alternative Solutions Program, where a case worker will help you with finding a job, lowering your monthly payments and other matters. For more information about DCS’s Alternative Solutions Program, visit https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/division-child-support/alternative-solutions.
Getting or Reinstating Your Driver’s License
If you need to drive a car to get to work or school, you will need a driver’s license. If you had a driver’s license before you were incarcerated and it has expired or been suspended, you will need to reinstate it. Information on how to get a Washington State driver’s license if you never had one or if your in-state or out-of-state license has expired or been suspended is below.
How do I start the process of getting my driver’s license?
To apply for a driver’s license online, you must create a License eXpress (LX) account at https://www.dol.wa.gov/licenseexpress.html . You can also apply for a driver’s license in person. Visit https://www.dol.wa.gov/dlofficetips.html for tips about planning your visit to the Department of Licensing (DOL).
Do I need to pass any tests in order to get my license?
Yes. You must pass a knowledge test to prove that you know the rules of the road. The test is multiple choice, and you must get 32 out of 40 correct to pass. Additional information about the knowledge test is available online at www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/writtentest.html
You also must pass a driving test. You must score 80 out of 100 to pass the driving test. If you want to practice driving before your test, you will need to get an instruction permit from a DOL office. You can also sign up for a driver training program. Learn more about driver training programs by visiting https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/drivertraining.html
For instructions on choosing a testing location and scheduling an appointment, visit https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdoffices/
How much does it cost to get a driver’s license?
It costs $89 to get a driver’s license, which is valid for six years before it must be renewed. It costs $20 to replace a lost or stolen license. You are also required to pay testing fees for the knowledge and driving tests. These fees vary by location.
What should I bring to the DOL?
Bring the following to your appointment:
- Testing fees: Check with your testing location for the exact amount
- Proof that you have auto liability insurance
- A vehicle in good working condition
- Proof of identity: You will need to show proof of Washington residence, name, and date of birth. The DOL accepts a number of different documents as proof of identity. Depending on the types of documents you have, you may need more than one form of ID. Visit https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/idproof.html for a detailed list of acceptable identity documents.
- $89 fee payment
- Social security number: If you do not have a Social Security number, you must prove that you have a valid address in Washington
How long will it take to get my license?
Once you pass the knowledge and driving tests and provide proof of identity, you will receive a temporary license at the DOL office. A permanent license will be mailed to you between 7-10 days.
How do I find out the status of my driver’s license?
If you know your driver’s license number, visit https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/checkstatus.html to learn whether your license is active, expired, suspended, or revoked. If you don’t know your driver’s license number, you can either purchase a copy of your driving record for $13 using LX or fill out a Driving Record Request form (available at www.dol.wa.gov/forms/500009.pdf), and send it to:
Driver Records Department of Licensing, PO Box 3907 Seattle, WA, 98124-3907.
How do I renew an expired license?
Washington State driver’s licenses generally need to be renewed every 6 years. Your license usually expires on your birthday. You can renew your license online using LX or in person at a DOL office. The cost to renew your license is $9 per year since your last renewal. If your license expired more than 6 years ago, you cannot renew it and will need to get a new license.
How can I reinstate a suspended license?
You should not drive on a suspended driver’s license. Driving with a suspended license is a crime. If you are pulled over, you will be arrested and your car will be impounded. Most licenses are suspended for civil reasons, such as failing to pay tickets. However, your license may also be suspended if you committed a crime such as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or repeated reckless driving.
You will have to pay a fee for reinstating your license. The fee varies based on the reason for the suspension. LX provides step-by-step instructions for reinstating your license based on the reason for the suspension. Additional information about reinstating a suspended license is available at https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/suspensions.html . You also can call 360.902.3900 to speak with a DOL representative who will explain the process for reinstating your license. Before you call, make sure you know the status of your driver’s license.
What if my driver’s license is suspended in another state?
If your out-of-state license is suspended, your Washington license is automatically suspended as well. You will need to contact that state’s department of licensing to find out what you need to do to get your license reinstated.
What can I do if my license is suspended or revoked but I absolutely need to drive in order to get to a job, a treatment program, or some other vital appointment?
While your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, you may be eligible for an Occupational/ Restricted Driver License (ORL) if you (i) have a Washington driver’s license, (ii) can provide proof of financial responsibility with a certificate of insurance, a State Treasurer’s certificate of deposit of $60,000 or a surety bond, and (iii) have not been convicted of vehicular homicide in the past seven years. Serious license suspensions, such as DUI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, violation of court-ordered probation, or failure to pay child support are not eligible. Visit the DOL’s website for more information about eligibility requirements: https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/orl.html
There is a $100 fee for an ORL. You can apply for an ORL online through the LX portal or in person at a DOL office using the following application: https://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/500001.pdf
Driving Record Request Form
Restricted Driver License Application
Click here for information on Governmental Benefits and Re-Entry by the Washington Re-Entry Guide
The information below explains how you can get help with cash, food and housing.
Note that for some programs, if you receive one you are not eligible for others. In addition, your immigration status may impact your eligibility for certain benefits. You also may not receive these benefits if you have violated your probation or parole. You can find more detailed information about your benefit eligibility by calling 211 or visiting Washington Connection’s website: https://www.washingtonconnection.org/prescreening/home.go?action=Introduction
What should I do if I need cash or medical help?
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a government program that provides temporary cash and medical help for families in need. In order to be eligible, your family must have financial resources of $1000 or less (you may also have up to $3,000 in a savings account). These resources include things such as checking accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and vehicle equity. Generally, you can only receive TANF for 60 months.
You can apply for TANF online by visiting the Washington Connection website. You can also apply in person at your local Department of Social and Health Services Community Services Office. Visit www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-find-an-office to find an office near you, or call 1-877-501-2233 for more information.
Where can I find help with getting food?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “Basic Food” in Washington, helps low income people make ends meet by providing monthly benefits to buy food through an electronic benefits card (EBT Card). With Basic Food benefits you can buy food such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Participating in Basic Food also provides other benefits, including free school meals for school-aged children as well as low-cost local phone service through the Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP), and eligibility for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Eligibility is based on your monthly income and household size. Generally, low-income families who earn 200% or less of the federal poverty level are eligible.
You can estimate how much your household might receive from Basic Food by using the online benefit estimator tool: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/ESA/csd/documents/bfcalculator/bf_benefit_estimator.htm.
You can apply for Basic Food online through the Washington Connection portal at http://washingtonconnection.org. You can also apply by mail or by visiting a local DSHS Community Services Office (CSO). For more information visit: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/basic-food
What is the Emergency Food Assistance Program and how do I apply for it?
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP/EFAP) provides free food in cases of an emergency. Your criminal history will not impact your ability to get food through this program. Low-income families who earn 185% or less of the federal poverty level and are in need of food can receive TEFAP/EFAP food. The federal poverty level may change every year. Visit https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines for the current guidelines. For more information about income and TEFAP/EFAP visit: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/emergency-food-assistance-program
For more information and to find where you can receive local TEFAP assistance, call 211.
How can I find information about food banks near me?
To find the nearest food bank visit: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx?state=WA and enter your zip code. All you need to do to receive food from the pantry is declare that you do not have the resources to feed yourself or your family. Some food pantries may have other requirements, for example you may have to live in a certain area or may only use their services a certain number of times per year.
Is extra help available for mothers and children?
The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) provides monthly checks for healthy food, health screenings and referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support. WIC is primarily for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under five years old. Dads, grandparents, and other caregivers of children under five may also sign the children up for WIC. Foster children under age five and foster teens who are pregnant may also be eligible. WIC does not provide food to you directly; instead, you will receive checks that you can use to purchase certain food items at the grocery store.
You can find more information about WIC eligibility by visiting: www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/WIC/Eligibility
What should I do if I need help with finding a place to live?
The best way to get information about housing services is by visiting your local housing authority, either online or in person. You can find information about your local housing authority by visiting https://www.awha.org/find-a-housing-authority.html
What about housing vouchers? Am I eligible? How do I apply?
Section 8 is a federal program that provides housing choice vouchers to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. If you receive a Section 8 housing voucher, you are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. You can apply for Section 8 through your local public housing agencies (PHAs). Your local PHA will help you figure out the program rules that apply to you. You can find a complete list of PHAs in Washington at this link:
Statewide Health Insurance Benefit Advisors (SHIBA)
Part of the insurance commissioner’s consumer protection services, SHIBA provides free, unbiased, and confidential assistance with Medicare and health care choices.
Washington Health Plan Finder
Free state healthcare (Medicaid/Apple Health) and tax credits available to those who meet income eligibility requirements. Assistance in finding health insurance online or over the phone.
Washington Prescription Drug Program
Offers discount prescription drug discounts to those found eligible.
Click here for more information on housing and re-entry by the Washington Re-Entry Guide
What are my housing options when I first get out of custody?
There are three basic types of housing: emergency, transitional and permanent housing.
Emergency housing provides short-term housing for people in crisis (such as those who are homeless or escaping abuse). Some shelters offer not only a place to sleep, but also programs to help you find a job or a permanent place to sleep. Emergency housing is usually free or low cost, but you should not expect to stay more than a few nights since beds are limited and may not be available. For help finding emergency housing, call 211.
Transitional housing is a bridge between emergency housing and permanent housing and generally can be used from several months to several years. You will have to pay rent, but your transitional housing provider may also offer services to help you deal with addiction or trauma.
Permanent housing is a house or apartment that you rent or own and can live in indefinitely (provided you pay your rent/mortgage and follow the terms of your lease/mortgage).
Are there government programs that help pay for housing?
Yes. The federal government has programs to help low-income people get permanent housing, including Section 8 and public housing programs. Section 8 provides vouchers to certain low-income people to help them pay their rent, but is not available to those who have committed sex crimes or certain drug crimes. Public housing is housing that is owned by the government and rented to low-income people.
How do I apply for Section 8 or public housing?
The process to apply for Section 8 and public housing is determined by your Public Housing Authority (“PHA”). In most areas, you will need to provide information on the people who will be living with you and documents showing your income. Contact your local PHA to determine if you are eligible. Note that Section 8 and public housing programs have limited availability and wait times can be very long.
Where can I find other affordable housing?
The best way to get help finding affordable housing is to contact your local PHA, https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PIH/documents/PHA_Contact_Report_WA.pdf.
What do I need to apply for permanent housing?
The materials you need will depend on the landlord and application, but may include: (i) personal information, such as your ID and SSN; (ii) rental history, including whether you have ever been evicted; (iii) credit history; (iv) criminal history; (v) employment and income, including paystubs and bank statements; and (vi) your housing voucher, if you have one.
What can a landlord ask about my criminal history?
Landlords cannot have a rule that they will not rent to anyone with a criminal history. Landlords can, however, consider your criminal history and deny your application dependent on the facts, such as the severity of the offense and how long ago it occurred.
In Seattle, landlords cannot ask about your criminal history and cannot reject your application for housing because of your criminal history unless they have reason to believe that you will be a danger to other tenants or the property.
Should I give more information about my criminal history than the landlord asks for?
You do not have to give information about your criminal history that a landlord doesn’t ask for, but if the landlord is running a background check you may want to disclose your criminal history since the landlord is likely to find out. As a general rule, the older and less serious the conviction, the less important it is to disclose. Consider submitting reference letters from employers and prior landlords to help your application.
Are certain landlords more open to people with criminal histories?
Yes. Some organizations rent directly to people with criminal records and/or help people with records find housing, including New Connections (https://nctacoma.org), Pioneer Human Services (https://pioneerhumanservices.org/housing), and the STAR Project (http://thestarproject.us/).
Can violating the terms of my release affect my housing situation?
Yes. If you are living in public housing, violating the terms of your release may cause you to lose your housing. If you were released before serving your maximum sentence and are in community custody, violating the terms of your release may mean you get sent back to prison.
Can I be evicted for an arrest that does not result in a conviction?
Yes. You can be evicted for an arrest that does not result in a conviction if your actions endangered other people on the property and involved a physical assault or illegal use of a firearm or deadly weapon.
Housing and Essential Needs (HEN)
Provides access to essential needs items and potential rental assistance for low-income individuals who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental incapacity and are ineligible for Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash assistance. Apply at DSHS either online, over the phone, or in person.
Washington Chapter 12
Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties
Operates self-run, self-supported recovery houses in Kitsap County. Full list of Kitsap Oxford Houses with contact numbers available online.
Standard Washington State Patrol background checks. Sex offenses and arson are an automatic disqualification for housing. Everything else will be looked at on a case by case basis.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Identification documents are documents that prove your identity and other important things about you. State-issued photo identification cards, Social Security cards, birth or marriage certificates, and educational credentials are all examples of identification documents. These documents are often necessary to secure housing, open a bank account, find a job, and obtain necessary health benefits. Your identification documents may have expired while you were incarcerated or been lost during the criminal justice process, or you may not have had them when you first entered the system.
A birth certificate can usually help you prove your age and citizenship (if you were born in the United States), and is very useful when you are trying to get a state-issued photo ID. To get a new copy of your birth certificate, contact the Department of Vital Records of the state in which you were born.
HOW DO I ORDER A BIRTH CERTIFICATE IF I WAS BORN IN WASHINGTON?
In Washington, the Department of Health issues certified copies of vital records (or “certificates”) for births, deaths, marriages and divorces that took place in the state of Washington. If you are still incarcerated, talk to your counselor to determine the best way to start the process from your facility. If you apply by mail, you will need a copy of the order form, which is called Washington State Department of Health Birth / Death Certificate Mail Order Form. This form can be found online at www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/422-044-BirthDeathMailInOrder.pdf, or your counselor may be able to help you get a copy.
Additionally, it is helpful to know that Washington is a public records state by law.1 This means that a loved one or family member is able to use any of the options detailed in the chart above to order a birth certificate for you, as long as that they are able to fill out the order form with your complete and accurate information. Your loved one or family member will need the following information about you in order to order your birth certificate:
- Your full name as it appears on your birth certificate;
- Your date of birth (Month/Date/Year);
- Your city or county of birth; and
- Your parents’ full names at the time of your birth.
HOW DO I ORDER A BIRTH CERTIFICATE IF I WAS BORN IN A DIFFERENT STATE?
The process for ordering birth certificates varies from state to state. If you were born outside of Washington, you will need to research how to order a birth certificate directly from the state or country in which you were born. Unless you have internet access, or can ask for help from someone who does, you may need to wait until you are released to find this information. However, it is a good idea to also talk to your counselor and see if he or she can provide you with any assistance. If you are able to have someone assist you with finding this information while you are incarcerated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm) contains information on locating vital records and includes links to information and guidelines for ordering birth certificates from various states and US territories.
SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
The primary use of your Social Security Card is to tell you your Social Security number. Social Security numbers are issued by the federal government to every citizen, and every person’s number is different. You will need your Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, and access government services, but if you know the number, you do not need to show your Social Security card very often.
WASHINGTON STATE IDENTIFICATION (ID) CARD
A Washington State ID card is a card issued by the Department of Licensing (DOL) that serves as proof of identity. A state ID card does not authorize you to drive a car (although a driver’s license also functions as an ID card, so if you have a driver’s license, you do not need a separate state ID). You will almost certainly need some form of state ID to get a job, rent an apartment, or open a bank account, so getting your ID is very important.
CAN I START THE PROCESS TO GET MY WASHINGTON STATE ID CARD WHILE I AM INCARCERATED?
While you can start the process of getting a Washington State ID card while you are still incarcerated, keep in mind that you will need to visit a Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) office as soon as possible after you are released to complete your application and receive your ID.
Six months prior to your release from a facility, you should be given an official notice that provides information regarding how the Department of Corrections can assist you in obtaining a Washington State driver’s license, ID card, and/or a replacement Social Security card.2
Once you have received this notice, and before you are released, make an appointment to talk with your counselor about obtaining a Washington State ID. Your counselor should submit an electronic verification letter to the DOL no earlier than 45 days prior to your release.3It is very important to know when your counselor submits this letter. The electronic verification letter will stay on file at the DOL for 60 days from the date it was filed, meaning that it may expire as soon as 15 days after your release.
After you are released, bring your Department of Corrections (DOC) Identification Badge to your local DOL office as soon as possible. You can find DOL office locations by visiting https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdoffices/. If you have other forms of identification, such as a Social Security card or birth certificate, it may be helpful to have them with you. The DOL will use your badge and the verification letter that your counselor sent to them in order to verify your identification. There is a fee associated with getting your ID, so you will need to bring a form of payment as well. It costs $54 to get an ID card, which is valid for six years before it must be renewed. It costs $20 to replace a lost or stolen ID card.
HOW DO I GET OR RENEW MY WASHINGTON STATE ID CARD AFTER I AM RELEASED?
You can get your Washington State ID card after you are released by visiting a DOL office. You can find DOL office locations by visiting https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdoffices/.
SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
CAN I GET A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD WHILE I AM INCARCERATED?
If you already have a Social Security number and simply need a new card (known as a replacement card), you will be able to apply for one while you are still incarcerated. If you need an original card (in other words, if you have never had a Social Security number issued to you), you cannot apply for a card while you are still in custody, and will have to wait until you are released.
HOW DO I GET A REPLACEMENT SOCIAL SECURITY CARD?
In order to get a replacement card, you will need to submit an application and other documentation. You can get an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) from your Counselor. This form is also available online: www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5fs.pdf.
If you have a valid U.S. mailing address and you already have your Washington state ID or driver’s license, you may be able to apply for a replacement card online using the my Social Security web portal (www.ssa.gov/myaccount/). For more information on setting up an account on my Social Security, visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
Getting your birth certificate:
To order your birth certificate or other vital records online, visit VitalChek at www.vitalchek.com/.
The National Center for Health Statistics provides contact information for every state’s vital record’s office, along with fee amounts and other information for each state. Visit www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm.
Getting your state ID card:
To find a Department of Licensing (DOL) office near you, visit https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdoffices/ and click or select your city.
Visit www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/idproof.html for information on what documents you need to get your state ID card.
To renew your ID card, use the online tool available at https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/olr/.
Getting your Social Security card:
The application for a Social Security card is available at www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5fs.pdf.
Legal Financial Obligations
Legal financial obligations (LFOs) are debts related to a criminal conviction, including fines, costs and fees and restitution imposed by the court as part of a criminal sentence. The information below explains the process for paying and managing LFOs.
What is the difference between a fine, cost, fee and restitution?
Fines, costs and fees and restitution are all types of LFOs, but there are some differences:
- Fines may be imposed as part of a sentence by the court as a type of punishment and are paid to the county clerk.
- Costs and Fees may be imposed by the court to cover expenses from your legal case. Most costs and fees are paid to the county clerk, except costs for supervision, parole and probation go to the Department of Corrections (DOC). The county clerk may charge up to $100/year for collecting LFOs.
- Restitution is compensation for the victim of a crime and is paid through the county clerk and county treasurer to the victim or the victim’s family.
How do I find out how much I owe?
After you were released from prison, you should have received a bill in the mail detailing how much you owe in LFOs. It will have been sent to the most recent address on file, so if your address has changed, contact the county clerk to update your address.
You can also contact the clerk’s office for the county or municipality in which you were convicted for information about your LFOs. Contact information for the county clerks can be found here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/?fa=court_dir.county
What other information do I need to know about my LFOs?
In addition to finding out how much you owe, ask the county clerk:
- How soon do I have to begin making payments?
- What payment options are available (cash, online payments with credit, etc.)?
- Who is the LFO contact at the clerk’s office?
- What should I do if I cannot pay the full amount? Are there payment plans available? It is important to make payments on your LFO even if you cannot make the full amount. This shows that you are making a good faith effort to pay off your debt. Note that some counties will not accept less than the full amount of the monthly payment, so make sure you know your county’s policy. If you cannot pay the full amount, you can also contact your community corrections officer for help with setting up a payment plan.
- What documents do I need to bring to the county clerk to establish my monthly payment schedule?
What happens if I do not pay my LFOs?
You can get in trouble for not paying LFOs, including:
- Jail Time: If the court decides you intentionally failed to pay your LFOs, you may face up to 60 days in county jail.
- Loss of Benefits: Failure to pay your LFOs may result in loss of government benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), State Family Assistance (SFA), Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA), Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash, referral to the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program, Basic Food Benefits and federally-funded housing. You also may lose your veteran benefits.
- Impact on Credit: Not paying your LFOs will hurt your credit score, which can make it harder to rent or buy a home, apply for loans, or purchase a car.
How can I reduce the amount I owe on my LFOs?
You may be able to get your non-restitution LFOs (for felonies), or all LFOs (for misdemeanors) waived or reduced if you can show you are not able to pay them without substantial hardship to you or your family, if you are homeless, or if you are mentally ill. You can also ask the court to waive any interest on non-restitution LFOs assigned to you from before June 7, 2018.
For instructions on how to ask the court to reduce or waive your LFOs, go to https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/filing-a-motion-to-remit-remove-financial-legal-obligations-in-district-or-municipal-court . You may also call the Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR hotline at 1-888-201-1014 on weekdays between 9:15 am – 12:15 pm to speak with an attorney about your LFOs.
What records should I keep relating to my LFOs?
It is important to maintain financial records so that, if needed, you can show that you are making a good faith attempt to pay your LFOs, establish how much you will pay during any period of supervision, prove your inability to pay if you are ever brought before the court for failing to pay or reduce or waive interest. Make sure you save documents showing your past and present earning abilities, along with information about any property and other financial assets you have. Examples of these documents include receipts of LFO payments, paystubs, job offer letters, tax returns and child support orders.
What should I do if I get a new job?
If you are under supervision when you get a new job, you must report that job to the DOC. If you are not under supervision, you must report your job to the county clerk. The DOC and county clerk will determine whether your LFO payment schedule should be changed.
If I get a job, will my wages be garnished to pay my LFOs?
It is important to pay your LFOs on time each month. Garnishment occurs when the court orders a part of your paycheck to be automatically withheld and paid toward your LFOs. If your LFO is not paid when due, and one month’s payment or more is owed, you may be subject to wage-garnishment. The maximum amount that can be withheld is 25% of your paycheck.
What should I do if I lose my job?
If you lose your job and you are no longer able to pay your LFOs without substantial hardship, you should contact your community corrections officer (if you are under supervision) or the county clerk (if you are not under supervision) to explain your situation and request a payment plan.
What should I do when I am first released to manage my debt?
Once you are released, you may choose to obtain a copy of your credit report and contact all lenders to determine how much you owe. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the four major reporting agencies, which you can order at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. That website is the only free credit reporting service, so be careful around other sites that claim to provide free reporting.
Which debts should I check on that may be outstanding?
If you do not have enough money to pay all of your debts, you may need to decide which ones to pay first. Consider the following different areas of debt and potential consequences of not paying that debt as you are making the decision:
- Family Necessities (food, essential medical expenses, housing and essential utilities)
- Failing to pay your housing bills, including rent, mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance may result in the loss of your home.
- Legal Financial Obligations (“LFOs”)
- Failing to pay your LFOs may result in a court order garnishing a portion of your paycheck or, if a court makes a determination that the failure to pay was willful, then the court may sentence you to jail time. .
- Car Loans and Insurance (if you need a car to get to and from work)
- A missed car loan payment can result in your car being taken.
- If you are in an accident and do not have insurance, your license can be suspended.
- Child Support
- Failing to pay child support can result in jail time, a reduction of your tax refund, wages or government benefits and suspension of your driver’s license.
- If you cannot afford the full amount of child support owed, you may arrange to make a partial payment and contact the Division of Child Support or a lawyer to see if the payment amount can be reduced.
- Student Loans
- Failing to pay back your federal student loans can result in your tax refund, wages or government benefits being reduced.
- If you cannot afford to pay your student loans, contact a lawyer or go to www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/ to see if you can get your loan payments reduced.
- Income Tax
- You must file a federal tax return even if you cannot afford to pay the amount due.
- Contact a lawyer to determine if you can get your tax debt put on hold based on your income.
- Hospital and Medical Bills
- If you cannot pay your hospital bills because of your low income, ask the hospital if you are eligible to have Charity Care cover all or part of your bills.
- Credit Cards
- Pay your credit card bills only after you have paid all of your other bills.
- A credit card company can file a lawsuit for nonpayment, but you will not be arrested for not paying your credit card bills.
- Not paying your credit card bills will hurt your credit score, which can make it harder to get an apartment, job or loan.
What can I do if I do not owe the debt the collection agency is claiming?
If you do not agree with the debt a collection agency is claiming you owe, you must notify the collection agency in writing within 30 days of receiving their initial notice.
Are there any debts that I do not have to pay back?
A debt that you have not made a payment on in at least six years is a “stale debt.” Collection agencies can try to collect on the debt, but you have a legal defense when the debt is too old and you do not have to pay it.
What should I do if I get sued for not paying my debts?
If someone serves you with notice saying you are being sued for not paying you debts, you must answer within 20 days. Do not ignore the papers, even if you think you do not owe money to the person suing you. If you do not respond, the court will rule against you and give the other party a judgment for everything they are asking for. The Northwest Justice Project has an online tool to help you draft your answer, which is available at https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/answering-a-lawsuit-for-debt-collection-self-help-forms.
What should I do if a creditor or collection agency gets a court judgment against me?
If there is a court judgment against you for a debt, move that debt to the top of your payment list. Also consider reaching out to the creditor or its attorney to set up a payment plan.
What can I do if a collection agency is harassing me?
Keep detailed records of all of your communications with collection agencies because you can sue a collection agency that has harassed or misled you. Examples of unlawful conduct include:
- The collector calls at “unreasonable” hours (9 p.m.- 8 a.m. under federal law and 9 p.m.- 7:30 a.m. under state law);
- The collector threatens illegal action, such as threatening to take money from your Social Security check or threatening arrest or jail time;
- The collector communicates with you or someone in your household in a harassing, intimidating, threatening or embarrassing way;
- The collector calls you or your spouse more than three times/week;
- The collector send notices that intentionally look like government documents or emergency messages.
Where can I get free legal help?
Coordinated Legal Education, Advice and Referral (CLEAR) is a centralized intake, advice and referral service for low-income people seeking free legal assistance. Contact CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014 or https://nwjustice.org/apply-online.
Business Education Support Training (BE$T)
Kitsap Community Resources
Works with entrepreneurs who are ready to start a new business or improve an existing one. Open to all who are interested (regardless of employment or income levels). Class schedule on website.
The Asset Building Coalition of Kitsap County
845 8th Street, Bremerton, WA 98337
Free financial workshops, credit reports, credit counseling assistance, home ownership education, tax preparation assistance, and referrals to financial support programs.
Fiscal Tiger’s How to Repair Your Credit After Getting Released From Prison guide is a three part guide meant to help individuals understand how their incarceration might have in-directly damaged their credit score, as well as how to begin to improve their credit score.
Click here for information on debt and re-entry by the Washington Re-Entry Guide
Record Vacating (New Hope Act)
HOW TO VACATE YOUR MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION
Having a criminal record can make it difficult to get housing, a job or loans since these often require background checks. You may be able to limit the information that appears in your background check by vacating your conviction. Vacating a conviction removes it from your criminal history, allows you to legally say you were never convicted of the crime, and prevents law enforcement from telling others about your conviction.
Beginning on July 28, 2019, a law called the New Hope Act will go into effect and improve the process for vacating convictions, including allowing you to vacate multiple misdemeanors and additional offenses. Information on how to ask a court to vacate your conviction is below.
A. Are you eligible?
- You can’t have any other criminal charges currently pending against you in any court.
- You must have completed your sentence, including any financial obligations, at least three years ago.
- You can’t have been convicted of a new crime in the last three years.
- You can’t be subject to or have violated in the last five years (i) a domestic violence protection order, (ii) a no-contact order, (iii) an anti-harassment order, or (iv) a civil restraining order
B. Is your offense eligible?
- You can vacate all misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, except the following:
- a sex offense (RCW 9A.44), unless it was failing to register as a sex offender;
- an offense involving obscenity and pornography (RCW 9.68);
- an offense involving sexual exploitation of children (RCW 9.68A);
- a violent offense or attempt to commit a violent offense (RCW 9.94A.030);
- operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (RCW 46.61.502, RCW 46.61.504, RCW 9.91.020).
- Additional rules apply to certain misdemeanors:
- If the offense you are trying to vacate involved operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (other than a violation of RCW 46.61.502, RCW 46.61.504, RCW 9.91.020) and is a “prior offense” (for a list of prior offenses, see Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction), then you must:
- not have had any alcohol or drug violations within ten years of the date of arrest;
- wait at least ten years since your arrest date.
- If the offense you are trying to vacate involved domestic violence, then you must:
- notify the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you;
- not have two or more domestic violence convictions from different incidents;
- wait at least five years since you completed the sentence, including any treatment ordered.
- If the offense you are trying to vacate is a prostitution offense (RCW 9A.88.030) that you committed as a result of being a victim of trafficking (RCW 9A.40.100), promoting prostitution in the first degree (RCW 9.68A.101), promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor (RCW 9.68.101), or trafficking in persons (22 U.S.C. § 7101), then you must:
- not have any other criminal charges currently pending against you in any court;
- not have been convicted of another crime, except prostitution, since the date of conviction, subject to certain exceptions.
- If the offense you are trying to vacate involved operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (other than a violation of RCW 46.61.502, RCW 46.61.504, RCW 9.91.020) and is a “prior offense” (for a list of prior offenses, see Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction), then you must:
C. How to vacate your misdemeanor
- Prepare your documents
- Fill out a Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Record of Misdemeanor Conviction. It is best to type the document, but if you handwrite make sure it is legible. Complete the entire form and sign it.
- Some counties require that you include copies of your judgment and sentence, certificate of discharge and criminal history with your motion. Prostitution offenses also require an additional form. Check the court rules or contact the clerk of the court to find out what you need to include.
- Schedule a hearing
- Contact the court clerk where you were sentenced and ask for the date and time for the hearing. Make sure you are available to attend the hearing.
- Complete a Notice of Hearing form.
- Make at least two copies of all of your documents. The original will be for the court, one copy will be for the prosecutor and one will be for your records. If there were victims of your crime, make additional copies of your documents for them.
- Submit the signed original documents to the court
- Submit the original Motion and Declaration, the Notice of Hearing and any additional required documents to the court. Have the clerk date-stamp everything submitted as well as the additional copies of each document.
- On the same day, notify the prosecutor’s office of your hearing.
- Give the prosecutor’s office a copy of all documents you submitted to the court.
- Ask the prosecutor’s office to date-stamp your copy of each document.
- Make sure the prosecutor’s office knows this is a notice of a hearing that is happening soon and they must give the documents to a prosecutor right away.
- If there were identifiable victims of your crime, ask the prosecutor’s office to notify each victim about the hearing. Provide them with an extra copy of the Notice of Hearing form and an envelope with sufficient postage.
- Attend your hearing on the date and time that is scheduled.
- Prior your hearing, review the following for advice on representing yourself in court. http://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_bja/ptc/documents/Superior CourtProSeLitigantInformation.pdf
- Prepare an Order on Motion Re. Vacating Misdemeanor Conviction.
- In your hearing, after introducing yourself and discussing your motion, present a copy of your proposed order to the prosecution and judge. Explain that your proposed order tracks the language in RCW 9.96.060.
D. What happens if the judge vacates my conviction?
- It is ultimately up to the judge to decide whether to vacate your conviction. If the judge grants your motion to vacate the conviction, the clerk of the court will send a copy of the order to the Washington State Patrol and to any local law enforcement agency that has criminal history information about you.
- You should also send a Letter to Law Enforcement asking them to stop sharing information about your conviction. Include a copy of the court’s order with the letter.
- After your conviction is vacated, the conviction and order vacating it are still accessible to the public. You would need to file a motion to seal to prevent the public from seeing these documents, but such motions are only be granted when there is a compelling privacy or safety concern.
- Vacating your conviction doesn’t automatically restore your right to own a firearm.
- A conviction that is vacated can be used to establish a later recidivist offense.
Download Forms Here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=38
Restoring Your Civil Rights After Incarceration
Am I eligible to vote if I was convicted of a crime?
Yes. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or in juvenile court, you can vote immediately. If you were convicted of a felony in federal court, your right to vote is automatically restored as soon as you are no longer in jail or prison. If you were convicted in a Washington state court, your right to vote is restored once you are no longer in jail or prison and are no longer on community custody.
How do I find out if I am on “community custody”?
To find out if you are on community custody, call the DOC Voting Hotline at (800) 430-9674 and leave a message with your name, DOC number and phone number, and asking if you have an open or active DOC file. If you do not have an open or active DOC file, you are eligible to vote. If you do, ask for the name and phone number of your Community Corrections Officer and contact him to find out if you are on community custody. You are not eligible to vote while you are on community custody and it is a felony to do so.
If I am eligible to vote, what do I need to do to vote?
Even though your right to vote has been restored, you still need to register to vote in order to receive a voting ballot. This is the case even if you voted before your felony conviction.
You can register to vote by: (i) going online at https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx; (ii) registering at a government office such as the Secretary of State’s office, the County Auditor’s office, post offices, public libraries or the DMV. If you need help registering to vote, call the Elections Division of the Secretary of State at (360) 902-4180.
When do I need to register to vote?
If you register by mail, you must mail your registration at least 29 days before election day. If you register in person, you must register at least 8 days before election day.
How do I vote?
You will receive a ballot in the mail at the address you put on your registration form. If you lose your ballot or do not receive it, you can request a replacement ballot or get one at a voting center. A list of voting centers is available at https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/voters/. Voting centers are open 18 days before election day and close at 8 p.m. on election day. If you vote by mail, your ballot must be postmarked by election day.
How do I restore other civil rights?
Unlike your right to vote, other civil rights do not restore automatically. Instead, you must get a Certificate of Discharge (“COD”) to restore these rights.
What rights are restored with a COD?
A COD will restore your right to serve on a jury or run for public office. A COD does not: (i) restore your right to possess firearms or ammunition under state and federal law; (ii) remove a conviction from your record; (iii) remove a domestic violence restriction; or (iv) remove any obligation to register as a sex offender.
How do I get a COD?
You can get a COD once you have completed all of the requirements of your sentence, including paying all of your Legal Financial Obligations. Once you have done so, you can ask the court for a COD by completing the Motion for Certificate and Order of Discharge form available at https://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=43 and filing it with the clerk of the court where you were sentenced.
What should I do if I get a jury questionnaire, but am not eligible to serve on a jury?
Even if you are not eligible to serve on a jury because you have not obtained a COD, you must still fill out the jury questionnaire. You should do so by indicating that you have been convicted of a felony and have not restored your civil rights.
- What is public transportation and how do I use it?
Public transportation (i.e. buses, trains, etc.) is generally the most affordable way to get around. Most public transit is run by counties (find out more local information at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/transit/).
- How can I get reduced bus fare?
Most counties in Washington have reduced fare programs for seniors and people with disabilities. If you have a disability, you will need a doctor’s verification (such as from your prison doctor). Some regions provide transit passes to agencies serving homeless and/or low-income people. Contact your local transit authority to find out what programs exist and if you are eligible.
- What can I do if I am banned from public transit?
Check with your Classification Counselor before you are released about possible public transit restrictions. If you know you have a public transit ban, you can write a letter to the transit authority asking them to reconsider the ban, or to the judge if it is court-imposed. Your letter should describe: when and why you were banned; what you need public transit for (for ex, school or work); and changes in your life that allow you to use public transit responsibly. Along with the letter, include any relevant evidence, like proof of income, employment, school enrollment, rehabilitation, etc.
- Are there other ways to get around without owning my own car if public transit is not convenient?
If you have a smartphone with data, you can download ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. They are like taxis, except drivers use their own car. These services are more expensive than riding the bus, but they are faster and can be useful if you lack other transit options. You will need a credit or debit card to use these services.
- What if I can’t get to my medical appointments?
If you have Apple Health (Medicaid) and limited transit access, you may be able to get financial help or even get actual transportation for medical appointments. To qualify, you must have: a current ProviderOne services card; no other way to reach your appointment; and insurance coverage for your appointment. Contact the WA State Health Care Authority (1-800-562-3022) one to two weeks before your appointment to request non-emergency medical transportation.
- What if I want to drive my own car? What should I know before buying a car?
To drive your own car, you will need: a valid driver’s license and auto insurance (see #8). If you want to buy a car, make sure to do research (see “More Resources” below). In general, check a potential car’s Vehicle Identification Number at www.vehiclehistory.gov. If you take out a loan, remember that interest payments can sometimes cost you much more in the long run. If you buy from a private party (not a dealer), you will have 15 days after purchasing to transfer ownership into your name, and you will need to submit relevant forms and fees to a WA Department of Licensing office.
- How do I get a disabled parking placard?
If you are temporarily or permanently disabled, you may be eligible for a disabled parking placard. Check eligibility rules and find the application at: www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/parkingreqs.html.
- Do I need auto insurance in order to drive in WA?
Yes. Under WA’s mandatory auto insurance law, you can either carry auto insurance, carry self-insurance (if you own more than 26 vehicles), or obtain a certificate of deposit by making a deposit of at least $60,000.
Auto insurance is the most frequent choice and provides coverage for property, medical expenses, and liability. If you get auto insurance, you will be issued an insurance card. You should be prepared to show it anytime you are driving and you may be issued a ticket if you are pulled over and do not have your card.
- Public transportation fares, routes, timetables, and more in your area: www.wsdot.wa.gov/transit/
- Buying a Car, WA State Attorney General’s Office, www.atg.wa.gov/buying-car
- Tips for buying a used car, NW Justice Project, www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/tips-for-buying-a-used-car
- Auto Insurance, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, www.insurance.wa.gov/auto-insurance
- Driver License, WA State Licensing, www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/
- To find a Department of Licensing office, visit https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/vehoffices/
What is a warrant?
A warrant is a court order allowing the police to arrest a person. If you have outstanding warrants, you can be arrested at any time. Warrants can prevent you from getting a driver’s license, or from getting certain government benefits such as food stamps or health care.
When is a warrant issued?
A warrant may be issued if you: (1) have been charged with a serious felony; (2) missed a court date in a criminal case; (3) violated Department of Corrections supervision requirements; or (4) failed to pay child support.
How can I find out about my outstanding warrants?
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one place where you can check for all warrants. Dependent on the type of warrant, you may want to: (1) contact the court that issued the warrant (if you do not know the court, think about where the alleged crime happened and contact courts in that city or county); (2) search the Judicial Information System (JIS) either by using a terminal at the courthouse or by contacting court staff or a public defender; (3) search your criminal record; (4) contact the Division of Child Support; or (5) contact the Department of Corrections.
How can I find out about warrants in other states?
If you know the court that issued the warrant, contact that court. If you don’t know the court that issued the warrant, you can ask the FBI to run a background check using your fingerprints to get a list of all of your cases across the country. You can then use that to contact the court for each case to see if you have any warrants. To request an FBI background check, follow the instructions at https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks.
What if I have outstanding warrants in multiple counties?
Many counties have agreements that people arrested in one place will be transported to counties where there is an outstanding warrant. This is a complicated problem and can result in spending a lot of time in jail. If you have warrants outstanding in multiple places, contact Open Door Legal Services at 206-682-4642.
What does it mean to “quash” a warrant?
Quashing a warrant means getting it removed from the system so that it can’t be used to arrest you. Quashing a warrant only deals with the warrant itself; it does not resolve the underlying case. For example, if you have a warrant for failing to pay child support, you may have the warrant quashed, but you will still need to deal with your child support obligations.
To quash a warrant, you can pay the bail, post a bond, go to a “quash calendar” or file a motion to quash.
What is the difference between paying bail and posting a bond?
A warrant usually has a bail amount on it. If you pay that amount to the court, the clerk will quash the warrant and give you a new court date. If you don’t have money to pay the full bail, you can hire a bonding agent to post a bond for you, which usually costs 10% of the bail amount. Bond agents charge different rates so you should shop for the best rate.
What is the difference between the quash calendar and filing a motion to quash?
For minor warrants, many courts have a system to quash warrants without requiring a person to post bail. To get on the quash calendar, you should contact the court, ask to be added to the calendar and then show up at the scheduled time to tell the judge why you think the warrant should be quashed. If the court doesn’t have a quash calendar, you can file a motion with the court instead.
It is important to know that if the judge doesn’t agree with your arguments for quashing the warrant, it is possible that you could be arrested so you should try to talk to a public defender before getting on a quash calendar or filing a motion. And before going to court, make sure you know about all of your warrants—the last thing you want is to go to court to quash one warrant only to be arrested on a different warrant.
What should I expect at the hearing?
Every court and hearing is different, but there are a few general things to expect. If the warrant was issued because you missed a court date, you will have to explain why you missed it. If the court quashes your warrant, but you miss another hearing, a new warrant will be issued and the court will be less likely to quash another warrant.
You should bring evidence to your hearing to show the court all of the good things you are doing, such as letters from counselors or case managers and pay stubs showing you have a job.
Remember that quashing a warrant does not resolve the underlying case. If you have been charged with a crime in the underlying case, but have not yet been convicted, you will have to decide whether you want to go to trial or plead guilty. It is important to talk to a lawyer before making this decision so that you know all of your options.
Phones and Internet
Washington households that are at or under 135% of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible to receive a free smartphone with a text, talk, and data plan. Washington Lifeline providers are Access, Assurance, enTouch, Life, Q Link, Safelink, and TerraCom. Visit the individual wireless provider’s websites for more information and to apply. Proof of DSHS benefits (i.e. EBT card, benefit letter…) is often used for income verification.
Companies registering individuals for these phones can sometimes be found in front of local CSO/DSHS offices.
Lifeline Internet Discount
Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of internet if your income is 135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines. Proof of DSHS benefits (i.e. EBT card, benefit letter…) is often used for income verification. Eligible customers will get up to $9.25 toward their bill. Be advised, these programs are often limited to individuals who are signing up for an internet provider for the first time. Click here to look up which internet providers offer Lifeline discounts in your area.
How to access free government cellphones and plans
What is work release?
Work release is a chance to complete the last six months of your sentence in “partial confinement.” This lets you leave the facility for approved activities, such as searching for a full-time job, building work skillsets, attending medical appointments, drug treatment and supervised visits with family. While on work release, you will be given a Resident Handbook that has all the rules you must follow.
Who is eligible for work release?
To qualify for work release, you must be six months from your release date and be classified as minimum security.
How do I apply for work release?
Up to a year before your release date, you can ask your classification counselor to submit a request to transfer to work release. Your request will be reviewed by the facility supervisor or local screening committee. If approved and bed space is available, you will be promoted to a minimum level of security once you are within six months of your release date.
What happens if I do not follow the rules of work release?
If you break the work release rules, you may be subject to discipline. This can include being removed from the work release program and returned to prison for the remainder of your sentence or even losing good conduct time, which could push your release date back even further. If you leave the facility without approval or are not back at the facility when you are supposed to be, you could face new felony charges. It is therefore very important that you follow all of the rules of work release as described in the Resident Handbook.
Background checks are conducted on all of their volunteers before they can serve.
Washington Free/Low Cost Legal Resources for Vacating Records
CLEAR Line – Northwest Justice Project
CLEAR Hotline: 1-888-201-1014
Hours: M-F 9:15 am – 12:15 pm
Legal hotline for people who are low income. Serves all counties in Washington. Persons seeking legal help outside King County are asked to call the CLEAR hotline, or in King County dial 211, for case screening and appropriate referral to NJP local offices or other civil legal aid.
* Due to the volume of calls CLEAR receives, CLEAR sometimes experiences long wait times. We encourage people to keep trying to call during the hotline hours. If you call CLEAR repeatedly and are unable to get through, or if you have a disability and need an accommodation, please contact your local field office.*
1010 Esther Street Vancouver, WA 98660
Can provide representation for a fee of $200/hour (cases typically take less than two hours). Serves Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Pacific, and Skamania counties. Contact through website contact form is best.
Vitaliy Kertchen, Attorney at Law
Kertchen Law, PLLC
917 S 10th St. Tacoma, WA 98405
Provides representation for vacates/restorations at a flat fee that starts at $1,000 statewide. Can accommodate two or three-part monthly payment plans. For those seeking to hire, please fill out the form on the website and that will start the process for a free consultation.
Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program
1104 Main Street, Plaza One Vancouver, WA 98660
Provides one-on-one advising appointments for records vacating with paperwork support from an attorney (guided pro se). Possible representation on a case by case basis.
King County Bar Association
Intake line: 206-267-7028
Hours: M-F 9am-4pm
1200 5th Ave #700, Seattle, WA 98101
Provides free legal services to vacate eligible criminal convictions for individuals at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. Call the intake line to see if you are eligible.
Lavender Rights Project
Hours: M – F 10:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday by appointment
2425 6th Ave S. Seattle, WA 98134
Can provide full legal representation for LGBTQ individuals seeking to vacate their records.
621 Tacoma Avenue South, Suite 303, Tacoma, Washington, 98402
Walk-In Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9-4 (closed for lunch from noon-1:15 daily). Can help with civil legal issues in Pierce County when you cannot afford to hire an attorney. You do not have to be a Pierce County resident to get help with your case.
Center for Justice
Phone: 509-835-5211 (ask for a “Conviction Clearing Intake”)
35 West Main, Suite 300 Spokane, WA 99201
Provides affordable legal assistance with vacating adult convictions in the Spokane County court system. Cost is $200 for Vacate and Expungement Assistance and $200 for Sealing Assistance (detailed information on vouchers, scholarships and sliding scale fee arrangements on website).