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Washington Arrest Records

Washington Arrest Records are types of criminal records that contain information about individuals arrested by law enforcement agencies in the state. It documents individuals detained or interrogated on suspicion of criminal behavior, regardless of the claimed crime.

If the subject of an arrest record is charged in court, the information included in the arrest record may be crucial to the case.

Arrest records in Washington typically contain the following information:

  • The individual's full name, date of birth, physical description, and other identifying information, such as their driver's license number, and address
  • Arrest details such as the arrest date, time, and place, the reason for the arrest, and the charges filed
  • Details about the individual's booking process, such as the name of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, the name of the booking officer, and the location of the booking facility
  • Mugshot or a photograph of the individual taken at the time of the arrest
  • Details about the individual's court appearances and any judgments or verdicts made in their case
  • Information about the individual's criminal history, such as previous arrests and convictions, as well as any warrants or outstanding charges

The Washington State Public Records Act (PRA) and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) consider arrest records public records, meaning they are generally accessible.

The public has a right to know about arrests made by law enforcement agencies, and access to these records can help ensure that law enforcement is acting fairly and lawfully.

However, certain information, such as medical information, juvenile records, and records that interfere with an ongoing investigation, may not be available to the public.

What Laws Govern Arrests in Washington?

In Washington, an arrest is when a law enforcement officer takes a person into custody to charge them with a crime. The primary law governing arrests in Washington is the Criminal Procedure Rules, specifically Chapter 10.31 RCW, which outlines the procedures law enforcement officers must follow when making an arrest.

Under RCW 10.31.100, law enforcement officers can arrest without a warrant under certain circumstances. A police officer who has reasonable cause to think that a suspect has or is committing a felony can make an arrest without a warrant.

A police officer may only arrest a person without a warrant for committing a simple misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor if an officer witnesses the violation, except for the following circumstances:

  • If the offense involves physical damage or threats of physical harm to anybody or something
  • If a person has illegally possessed a firearm or other hazardous weapon on private or public elementary or secondary school property

The state laws and the Fourth Amendment require that arrests without a warrant be based on probable cause. Probable cause means that the officer has a reasonable belief, based on specific facts and circumstances, that a person has committed a crime.

When making an arrest, law enforcement officers must identify themselves and state that the person is under arrest. To perform a criminal arrest, an officer may break down any outer or inner door, window, or enclosure if the suspect is within the enclosed property and refuses to allow a police officer to enter after being notified.

What Is the Arrest Booking Process in Washington?

The arrest booking process in Washington State is generally similar to that in other states, but there may be minor variations depending on the jurisdiction and local laws.

Generally, the arrest booking process in Washington begins when a law enforcement officer places an individual under arrest. Then, the police officer will transport the individual to a local jail or detention center for booking.

During the booking process, the police officer will record the individual's personal information, including their name, date of birth, and address. The individual's fingerprints and a photograph are also taken, and the information is entered into a law enforcement database.

In some jurisdictions, the police officer may collect DNA samples, while others require drug or alcohol testing.

After collecting the personal information, the police officer will search the individual and take any personal belongings until their release. The individual may also be asked to change into jail-issued clothing.

Once the booking process is complete, the police officer will place the individual in a cell or holding area until their arraignment or bail hearing. If the individual cannot post bail, they may remain in custody until trial.

At the trial or court hearing, the individual will be formally charged with a crime and will have the opportunity to enter a plea.

What Are Your Rights During an Arrest in Washington?

Throughout the arrest process, you have several protections against self-incrimination. As per the Fifth Amendment and the definitive Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona, you have the following rights during an arrest in Washington:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to consult with an attorney before speaking with police enforcement
  • Freedom to refuse to answer law enforcement's queries
  • The right to stop answering questions until your lawyer arrives
  • The right to be defended by an attorney during police interrogation
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to one assigned by the court

These rights, known as your Miranda rights, must be read to you while you are in police custody and being interrogated.

What Are Washington Mugshot Records?

Mugshot records, often part of the Washington Arrest Records, refer to images of an individual's face taken during arrest booking for official reasons, mainly for police records and identification purposes.

These records typically include a front-facing photograph of the individual's face and identifying information such as their name, date of birth, and the charges they are facing.

Generally, the law enforcement agency that arrested and booked the individual into custody maintains Washington Mugshot Records. You can contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to obtain mugshot records and request a copy. To get a record, you must provide the individual's name and the arrest date.

Alternatively, you can obtain these records from the Washington State Patrol (WSP), specifically if the arrest resulted in a conviction. The WSP maintains a criminal history records database that may include mugshot records.

The Sex Offender Information Search of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and Inmate Search of the Washington State Department of Correction are other methods to seek mugshot records that led to convictions in the state.

Lastly, you can check the Sheriff's Office website in the county where the arrest occurred. Some offices, like in King County and Pierce County, have Sex Offender Search Databases where you may obtain mugshot records.

It is worth noting that there may be some restrictions on releasing mugshot records under Washington State public records laws. For example, the release of a mugshot may be restricted if it interferes with an ongoing investigation or violates an individual's privacy rights.

How Long Does an Arrest Record Stay in Washington?

There are specific record retention schedules of documents for most government agencies in Washington. These schedules assist agencies in deciding the minimum retention time and disposal procedure for records.

Some documents may be destroyed upon expiry of the retention term, while others may be transferred to other agencies or evaluated by the state's archives before disposal. In Washington State, there is a prohibition on the destruction of records that are part of current litigation or reasonably believed to be part of litigation.

Like many other states, Washington does not define record retention periods for arrest records. Therefore, Washington Arrest Records are generally on file indefinitely unless the individual is acquitted, charges are dismissed, or the person is eligible for an expungement.

Nonetheless, you can contact the agency's record keeper to learn the agency's precise retention dates. Most law enforcement authorities maintain these documents per their procedures and regulations.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record in Washington?

Expunging Washington Arrest Records is vacating a conviction or setting aside a non-conviction record in the state.

Since arrests do not always end in convictions, Washington permits record subjects to expunge their arrest records under administrative expungement.

Administrative expungement in Washington is clearing or setting aside an arrest record that did not result in a conviction. To be eligible for this expungement, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Not convicted of the crime you were arrested for
  • Must not have any pending criminal charges during a two to a three-year waiting period
  • Must not have any prior convictions for any other offense, either in Washington or in any other state

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you can petition the WSP to have your arrest record deleted. In filing for administrative expungement with the WSP, you must fill out this Deletion or Expungement of Non-Conviction Records form

On the other hand, deleting an arrest record that resulted in a conviction is known as vacating a conviction or court expungement in Washington.

To be eligible to vacate a conviction in the state, you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Must have completed all the terms of your sentence, including probation, parole, and payment of fines and restitution
  • Your conviction was unrelated to violence, child sexual exploitation, obscenity, or driving under the influence.
  • At least three years have passed since the completion of the sentence
  • Must not have any pending charges

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you can file a motion with the court to vacate your conviction. Typically, you will fill out court forms for court expungement.

With either expungement, you can lawfully state that you have never been arrested or convicted in Washington.

How To Search Washington Arrest Records?

With the WSP's WATCH (Washington Access to Criminal History) website, you may see your own or third-party arrest records. It allows inquiring parties to do name searches for arrest records in the state and obtain immediate results.

The WATCH database provides information on sexual offenders, conviction records, kidnappings, and less than one-year-old arrest records. To get Washington Arrest Records, you must pay a fee and provide certain information, including the subject's name, date of birth, and middle initial.

Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) is another method for obtaining arrest records in Washington. In CHRI, you must mail the Identification and Background Check Section of the WSP a request form and pay any applicable fees.

In addition to mail-in requests, CHRI requests may be made in person by visiting the Olympia office at 106 11th Ave SW Suite 1300, Olympia, WA 98501, completing the same form above, and paying the same fees.

Moreover, apart from the WSP services, the courts of Washington have an online database for court records where you can do a free search for arrest records. In this system, you can search using names or case information.

Counties in Washington

Jails and Prisons in Washington

Seattle RRM2425 SOUTH 200 ST (AT FDC), SEATTLE, WA
King County WA Youth Service Center1211 East Alder Avenue, Seattle, WA
Redmond Booking Facility8701 160th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, WA
Pierce County WA Main Jail - New Facility701 Nollmeyer Ln., Tacoma, WA
Pierce County WA Main Jail - Main Facility910 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA
Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW)9601 Bujacich Rd. NW, Gig Harbor, WA
Tacoma ICE Processing Center1623 East J Street, Tacoma, WA