Last year the Washington State Legislature passed the Youth Opportunities Act (YOA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. The YOA would seal records for 18-year-olds who meet two criteria: the crimes involved must be non-violent, non-sexual offenses, and they must have fulfilled all court-ordered requirements. This includes paying every dime of legal financial obligations (LFOs). Those who cannot pay their LFOs are ineligible.
Senate Bill 5564, known as the YEAR Act (Youth Equality and Reintegration Act), sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, would give all eligible youth the opportunity to seal their records regardless of income. The YEAR Act eliminates most non-restitution LFOs from state law so youths will be charged for only what is necessary to make victims whole.
“This legislation is about giving young people a second chance,” O’Ban said. “We want youth to learn from their mistakes, change their lives and become fully integrated into society. We need options for youth to improve their lives and become contributing members of society.”
Judges will exercise discretion in considering a youth’s ability to pay when ordering the amount of restitution and can order community service instead of monetary payment, but only if the victim approves it. The youth will still be responsible for the debt, but non-violent, non-sexual offenses would be sealed.