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Cleaning up your record in Washington state: 3 reasons why it matters

The economy has improved a bit since the Great Recession ended in 2009, but it's still not great. For most jobs, the market is very competitive, both in the Seattle area and across the country.

And if you have a criminal record, you are at a definite disadvantage.

In this post, we will discuss three reasons why it is so important to consider taking steps to clean up your record through record-sealing or expungement.

Employers really do check.

More than 7 out of 10 employers use criminal background checks in the hiring process.

And very often, these checks screen out people with less-than-clean records. The U.S. president's Council of Economic Advisers (the Council) has found that the chances of an applicant with a criminal record getting invited for an interview or offered a job are about 50 percent less than applicants with clean records.

There is a lot of money at stake - and feelings of self-worth as well.

Over time, losing out on jobs due to a criminal record can result in your making significantly less money. It can mean struggling with unemployment and dead-end jobs.

Those kinds of struggles don't only affect your pocketbook. They also affect your self-esteem.

Besides job applications, a criminal record can also affect your ability to cross over into Canada and to apply effectively for housing or student loans.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to try to get your record sealed or expunged.

Washington state law does allow for record-sealing or expungement in many cases.

Washington's law on sealing criminal records is pretty complicated. But generally it is possible to get many different types of convictions off your record.

Granted, it is not possible to get violent felony convictions removed. But there is a process in place for preventing many other types of offenses from blocking your efforts to get a job or sabotaging your life in other ways.

This process does not only apply to misdemeanors. It also includes gross misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

Your situation

To be sure, the law has many details and nuances. But if you are concerned about how a criminal record is holding you back from getting a good job or moving forward with your life in other ways, it is important to discuss your legal options with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the record-sealing process.

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