My question involves expungements or pardons for the state of: WA
I'm sorry this is long but include all the details that might be relevant.
I'm currently 28, my conviction was from 99' and I was 16/17 on the arrest day. Been a while so I cant be fully sure.
Charges stem from three different events but ended with a single conviction.
Quite simply I was young and broke at 15, guy offered me money to find and download child porn. At the time it did not seem like a big deal. Made $200 in the hopes of making more. In the process a laptop was used to download and store along with 3.5 disks. all had the same images. My dad and I had some issues and in retaliation for be stealing and damaging his truck he gave my laptop to the police and said I stole it. Laptop was not stolen but obviously they charged me with the porn. 40-50 images and it was recommended for diversion.
6 months later and before the process was complete my house was raided by customs. the email account I had used to get the photos and that had not been used in a significant amount of time and I had used my dads card to setup the account. So when the bill got behind they went into the email account saw the porn and reported it. This time we were talking about the same images that were on the laptop just different copy's. For obvious reasons they saw this now as habitual and diversion was not longer on the table.
I could not afford an attorney. My public defender had it chopped down to one charge of poss (rcw 9.68a.070)(its a class C as a juv), time served, NOT registrar, some community service and a year of probation. Said that after 5 years I could get it sealed. Seeing no options and trusting the public defender I plead it out.
a few months after starting my probation the police return the seized computer gear including media to my dad. including the damn porn! even the damn disk they copied the porn to as a single source of evidence. however I neither my dad nor myself knew it at the time. we divided up the disks and media as best we could remember. I was not allowed a computer on probation and not living with my dad anymore. I simply took what I thought was mine and went on my way. I was worried that my PO would get mad at me having the disks so did the logical teenage thing and hid it. PO did a check and searched the house, found the disks and took some of them. Made me sign a search card after the search to cover themselves, I went along with it really not expecting anything to come of it. basically trying not to rock the boat. well if my luck was not bad enough she got one of the disks that had the same damn porn.
When I got picked up this time I tried to explain that it was the same porn and for obvious reason did not believe me. As for the CD the police had made I told the cops about it but out of fear of more charges said I destroyed it. I large mistake I would learn soon. I was charge with a whole new list of things and this time as an adult and they wanted me on a life time registrar. Again public defender said just plead guilty and do 6 months.
By this time I was getting pretty pissed/depressed over the whole thing. I found a real attorney and told him the whole story top to bottom. He tried to work with the prosecutor but she refused. Went to bench trial. I still had the disk but out of fear of new charges we brought just the case. Once the tech that made the CD was on the stand he verified they had made it and gave it back by mistake. Judge found me not guilty and I finished out my probation with next to no issues.
Fast forward 7 years. I had not been arrested for anything since tried to have my records just sealed to find out the first public defender had lied, sex offenses in Washington can never be sealed i was told by the prosecutors office.
Now its been over 10 years. I was forced out of two local high schools before I just gave up and dropped out. I have lost jobs twice forcing my credit ranting in toilet after I was enable to get another job fast enough. So im force to get car loans with 30%+ interest rates. I cant buy a house so im forced to rent and trying to find nice place to rent with a child porn charge and poor credit rating took 10 years. I was more or less forced to live in some really shitty places. But I kept my head up, after not being able to find any good paying work and not having a diploma I taught my self two trades. I am very skilled PHP/Flash dev and a very skilled photographer. I knew no agency would hire me with my record so for the last 7 years I have worked as a freelance contractor. I have built up a decent client base and was able to get myself out of the getto. The economy has hurt my work a little but staying mostly in the black.
I have worked three times as hard as anyone else to get where I am. I have high profile clients and tons of potential work that I am too scared to take worried they might run a background check. High paying job offers im scared will run a background check. If word ever got out about my past I would become a modern day leper. In my line of work all the big players know each other and they would talk. I would loose my work, that would end up in me losing my apt, sending me right back to the getto and prob on welfare this time.
I really want to get married and have a family but I cant even date with out being worried. There is no easy way to bring that up and what if she suddenly decides to go vigilante or gets mad and me and starts telling a bunch of people. It would destroy me. Or worse one girl i was seeing was unable to have children and was really wanting to adopt. I knew they would never let her if I was in the house so I had to break it off and lie as to why. Talk about a really crappy feeling...
I did not even get into the stigma. I ended up having to leave a church I was at for years and most of my friends and just start over. After someone thought I was talking with kids to much and made a big deal out of it. Mind you it was nothing out of the ordinary just being polite but God forbid. "He has a record he has to be upto no good". When in reality they just did not want someone like me in their nice place. I really could understand the why looking back, but at 22 that was a really horrid feeling. Everyone just looking at you like some kind of monster. Honestly it led to a lot of drinking before I got things on track.
For years now I have walked on egg shells, never dated women with kids, avoided anything that could be remotely misconstrued. Avoiding anything that might need a background check. Close friends know I have a past they don't pry and I don't tell.
All that said I fully understand why i'm treated the way I am. I just get grouped in with the repeat offenders, rapist etc. Every time one makes the news people hate me more. When I was 15 I never really know how bad it was. But now I can really respect the hate and having seen its effect first hand in one case I understand it. But I'm so tired of living in fear. I know I will never be a cop or a teacher, jobs I thought about doing as a kid. But damn it I just want to be able to go after the work I have earned. Get married without fear. Have a damn chance at not ending up on welfare.
Plus while photography is a small part of my income there is no way I could think about doing it full time with my record. Just one more road block as I am rather good at it and where I live there is money in it.
Every year I check to see if there is any chance of at least getting the records sealed. In fact it just seems to get harder and harder. I can never seem to save enough money to hire a good lawyer and even then the chances seem iffy. I have looked at the pardons and the only examples I have seen they have been totally honest with everyone around them and had lots of referrers. In my case i'm scared I would damage it all just trying to get the referrers. Plus now im about to loose my license over a stupid ticket I got that I was behind on. There is a program that would get me back on the road but I cant even do that since I have a "sex offense" record... grah...
I'm really getting to the end of my rope. I have fully owned up to what I have done and jumped thru all the hoops and I just want to move on. I don't think I can take another 10 years of this Any thoughts or options are very welcome. I really would be happy with a sealing. I don't plan to work with kids or anything just need to be able to go into an AD agency and not worry about destroying my career.