How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Zoey_ JD Your Own Question
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23159
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Zoey_ JD is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hi, Im a Canadian citizen and several years ago I was in the state of Washington,

This answer was rated:


I'm a Canadian citizen and several years ago I was in the state of Washington, driving home from a shopping trip.

I was pulled over and arrested for Reckless Driving (speeding - 83mph), then released, but was given a summons to go to court. In court I pled guilty, but the DA spoke to the judge and they reduced it to a civil infraction, and the sentence was commuted to a regular speeding ticket.

My question then, is whether or not I now have a criminal record in the US. IE if an employer ran a background check on me, would this show up? Does it matter if the employer is based in California vs Washington?

If I won't be able to get a job anywhere in the US because of this, is there anything I can do to erase this from my record?

Hello Jacustomer,

If you pled guilty to a civil infraction then you have no criminal record in the US and it should not show up on your criminal history in any state, since it was not resolved as a criminal case.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Fran,

When I was filling out the form in court it cited my charge as criminal, and I ticked off Plead Guilty to this criminal charge though.

But you're saying that since the judge ended up commuting (they used this term in court - "commute", but I don't recall if the charge or the sentence was "commuted"??) and gave me a speeding ticket instead, this counts as me actually pleading guilty to a civil offense instead of criminal? And therefore I have no criminal record?


Yes, that's what I am saying. I understand that when you walked in you were prepared to resolve your matter with a plea of guilty to the charge, but Reckless Driving is considered a gross misdemeanor in Washington State that could be punished by a jail sentence up to a year and/or a fine of up to $5,000 and a 30 day suspension of your driving privileges .

So the original charge had to have been commuted because your matter was reduced from a criminal case to an infraction. (Speeding in WA is a violation and not a criminal offense. You can't get a jail penalty for speeding). In the US, when you have to disclose convictions for purposes of a job application, you are told that you can ignore speeding tickets.

A speeding ticket should not appear on your criminal history and should not cost you a job with a US employer. There is, I suppose a chance that the misdemeanor arrest could show on your record, but if you could corroborate the fact that it resolved with a plea to an infraction, it is still a fact that you have never been convicted of a crime.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Okay sorry to follow up with one last confirmation:

In an employer's background check, my original arrest will not show up? Not in Washington, and not in California or anywhere else?

And this is because the Reckless Driving was ultimately commuted to a civil infraction?

Thank you very much for your patience, it is my career on the line. =(

That could go either way as I mentioned before. As the case did not result in a criminal conviction, I would hope that the whole matter would not show up on your record. But it is possible that the misdemeanor arrest would show with no dispostion at all, making it incumbent upon you to show what did happen with that case. The clerk of the court where your conviction occurred or the prosecutor's office should be able to get you some official document to show how the case came out with no criminal conviction.

If the misdemeanor arrest does show, it is not something that Washington would remove from your record. But once again, as you have never been convicted of a crime and all this was is a speeding ticket, there should be no impediment to gettin a job in the US.
Zoey_ JD and 4 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Fran, I appreciate your help.

And thanks for being patient with me! :)
Thank you as well!

Good luck with your interviews.