Vacation of prior simple possession convictions
King County also has a process to vacate all prior convictions for simple drug possession in Superior Court. This includes convictions where simple drug possession was an element of the current offense. The good news is that a person with a qualifying conviction does not need to take any action for this to happen! We are currently compiling a list of all Blake-eligible convictions since 1971.
The PAO has successfully vacated 5,040 Blake convictions through the end of March 2022. The PAO has also completed 373 re-sentencings and dismissed 780 pending simple possession cases.
Starting with the most recent convictions and working back in time, we are currently filing motions on behalf of the state to:
- Vacate prior convictions for simple drug possession.
- Cancel any outstanding LFO or collections cost balances that arise from the vacated conviction.
- Begin a process through the clerk’s office for a refund of any LFO or collections paid.
We also inform the State Patrol about the vacated conviction.
In the future, VUSCA Possession charges will not be invalid. The Blake decision changed the language of the law. Going forward the State can once again charge people with VUSCA Possession under the new statute. This change only affects new VUSCA cases and not cases that occurred before the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Blake.
We have successfully vacated criminal judgments with Blake-only convictions back to mid-2008. The clerk’s office will compute any LFO refunds that are due and document those amounts in the court file.
Check your court record to make sure your conviction for simple drug possession is gone.
Convictions in other counties
Check with that county to find out how simple drug possession convictions and LFO refunds are being handled. The specific procedure for each county may vary.
Cases that are not VUSCA cases
There are many cases where a defendant had a prior VUCSA conviction on their record during sentencing to a different crime. During sentencing, an offender gets scored on the seriousness of the crime and the number of crimes they committed in their past. If there was VUSCA Possession in their past, it added to the offender score and increased the length of their sentence. These defendants need to be re-sentenced because there will be a reduction in the offender score. This also reduces the amount of time they spend in prison.
The Blake decision may also affect certain felonies where an underlying VUSCA was the predicate offense for a new charge. Most cases affected by the Blake decision will not be re-sentenced at a hearing. It will be resolved with a mutually agreed order between the defendant’s attorney and the King County Prosecutor’s Office. This agreed order reflects the original sentence and removes the invalid VUSCA conviction. This will reduce the offender score and sentence. There will not be a hearing, but, you may still receive a letter explaining State v Blake.
In some limited violent crime cases, a re-sentencing hearing is scheduled. We notify victims of any of these cases about the hearing. An assigned advocate also helps you through the process.