Definition: Vacating a Conviction

Generally, to vacate a conviction means to set aside the verdict, allowing it to appear as if the first trial and conviction never happened. Prosecutors have the opportunity to pursue your case again, which means you, as the defendant, may have to endure another round of the criminal trial process.


Many defendants convicted of a crime will eventually ask for their case to be vacated, though, there are strict requirements as to which cases are eligible. Requirements differ depending on the underlying conviction and whether it is a misdemeanor or felony.

If a charge has been vacated, the court will withdraw the guilty finding and enter a plea of “not guilty.” The case will be dismissed and appear as a dismissal on your record. Vacated convictions still appear on your background check as dismissals, but you are able to legally state you have never been convicted of that crime.


State law allows a felony to be vacated, though; the following conditions must be met:

  • There can be no convictions since the date of discharge;
  • Conditions of the crime have to have been satisfied and the case has to have been discharged;
  • The crime cannot be a crime against a person or a violent felony.
  • No new criminal cases can be pending;
  • At least ten years have to have passed since discharge if this crime was a class B felony and five years for a class C felony.


Misdemeanors can be vacated if the following conditions are met:

  • There can be no convictions since the date of discharge;
  • All conditions of the sentence must have been satisfied;
  • Another case cannot have been previously vacated;
  • No new criminal cases can be pending;
  • The potentially vacated crime cannot be a violent felony, a sex related offense or a DUI / physical control charge;
  • Three years must has passed since the case was closed for all misdemeanors other than a domestic violence related charge.

Contact Us

If you believe your case is vacation eligible, contact The Nahajski Firm by email or phone at 206-621-0500 to discuss your case.