The Washington State Patrol (WSP) maintains records on criminal convictions in Washington State. The accounts of misdemeanor and felony convictions help to assess the general safety of local communities while helping to keep track of prior criminal acts and those convicted of committing them. The criminal histories are public records and available for public use on a somewhat restrictive basis.
How Are Criminal Records Used?Criminal records generally are used to determine an individual’s prior history and assess his or her potential threat level to the general community. While many people convicted of criminal behavior correct their ways and never repeat crimes, some individuals are especially dangerous and habitual offenders. Those are the people society has determined are among the greatest threats to public safety, and criminal records help to keep them out of vulnerable locations. A criminal record is used to conduct criminal background checks done by potential employers, the military, law enforcement, and even rental agencies that are checking on potential residents. The background checks help to affirm someone who is applying for work in a pharmacy does not have a history of drug offenses, for example. And you would not want someone convicted of a sexual offense against children to be hired by a public school system. The criminal records help to prevent that from happening.
How Can Someone Access Criminal Records?The WSP will provide criminal history reports on individuals upon receipt of a valid request and payment of any fees. Requesters must complete a criminal history request and submit it to the WSP criminal records unit and pay the requisite fee. You cannot pay the fee with cash. Instead, the WSP accepts a personal check, money order, cashier’s check, credit card or debit card payment. Records also are available online, by mail and in person when visiting a WSP location. The records are available online via the Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) system, and by mail at:
How Can You Request a Criminal Record?
You must complete a Request for Conviction Criminal History Form in person, by mail or online via the WATCH system. You need to provide the subject’s name, known aliases and date of birth. You also must provide your name, address and phone number so that the WSP can keep track of who is requesting what and why. You can ask that the results be sent via email or the postal service, which can take up to 14 business days.
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