Applicant Resources

Understanding, Updating & Correcting Background Check Information

The BCCU mission is to transform the lives of Washington State’s vulnerable populations, and those who serve them. This means we must make sure our clients receive the highest quality of care, while also assisting applicants with obtaining, understanding, and - if needed- correcting their criminal history information. While the BCCU cannot control the reporting of criminal history information, nor can we directly change or update the information that is reported, we may assist applicants with the possible next steps.

Please note that the information provided on this website is offered only as a public service to you and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The following questions and answers are to help you understand the background check notification letter, and to generally assist you with pursuing any needed corrections/updates to your criminal history information:

The applicant can request a copy of their background check information from BCCU by completing an  Applicant Request for a Copy of Background Check Information Form (Word).

You can also contact the reporting source directly (found on page two of your BCCU results). The applicant can request records from the reporting source, such as the Washington State Patrol - WSP, the specific court reporting the crime, Department of Health - DOH, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), etc. 

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BCCU does NOT have the ability to correct any errors that have been reported from outside sources.  For example, if there is an incorrect charge on your Washington State Patrol Rap Sheet, you will need to contact the WSP directly. If there is an incorrect charge on your FBI Rap Sheet, you will need to contact the FBI as well the agency (court, police department) who reported the arrest to the FBI.

The applicant will need a copy of the results. If the applicant does not have a copy of the results, they can request one from the entity requesting the background check or fill out a Request for Background Check Information Form  and submit it to BCCU at bccuinquiry@dshs.wa.gov.

The contact information for the reporting agency can be found on page two of the results and we have also listed the contact information below. The applicant will need to work with the reporting agency in order to provide BCCU with more information regarding the unclear/unknown crime. Once the information is received, BCCU can determine what type of results letter to issue.

BCCU Reporting Sources Directory:

Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, Adult Protective Services

(360) 725-2615

Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, Resident and Client Protection Program
(360) 725-2405 or (360) 725-2537

Applicant Self-Disclosure- Current and previous background check self-disclosures- What the applicant has provided to us on a Background Check Authorization form (current form and all previous forms) and Applicant Affidavits. Self-Disclosures can be corrected/updated using a BCCU Applicant Affidavit Form.

Children’s Administration - Child Protective Services

(800) 568-5624

Department of Corrections - DOC & Felony Offenders Reporting System - FORS – Washington State and out of state convictions.

(360) 725-8888

Department of Health - DOH - In state and out-of-state negative actions, service provider and professional license status.

(360) 236-4700

Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI - National and International arrests, pending convictions, convictions, warrants, national sex offender registry.

Special Correspondence Unit - SCU
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Attention: SCU, Module D-2
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV  26306-0171

(304) 625-5590

Washington Courts - Convictions, pending charges, charges awaiting sentencing and in other deferral status will be reported. See below for disposition definitions. Contact the specific Washington State Court to correct any background check information.

Washington State Patrol - WSP - Washington State conviction information, arrests and pending charges of less than 12 months, DOC activity, and registered sex offender status

3000 Pacific Ave
Olympia, WA 98501

(360) 534-2000 (Press 5 for customer service)

Western Identification Network - WIN - State police records from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming

NOTE: When contacting the FBI, the applicant may be directed to work with the original reporting agency to correct any background check information.  Original reporting agency means the agency that is reporting the information to the FBI. Original reporting agencies can include state non-federal information such as state law enforcement or Department of Public Safety.

If working with the reporting agency has been unsuccessful and the applicant knows what the crime is, they can fill out an Applicant Affidavit Form  providing the exact date and details of the unclear/unknown crime and send the Applicant Affidavit Form to BCCU for review.

If the applicant does not know what the unclear/unknown crime is, BCCU cannot have the applicant fill out an Applicant Affidavit Form since the charge is unknown and the applicant will be unable to provide further information.

Please note that clarifying a crime may not generate a different type of result letter.

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The information reported to BCCU includes publically accessible conviction data, as well as non-conviction data (such as arrests, dismissals, and various other reports from the justice system), and agency data on negative administrative actions, licensing actions, adult/child protective service reports, and more.

BCCU generally uses conviction information to determine the result of the check.  However, convictions that have been the subject of an expungement, pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation (or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of rehabilitation or innocence) in many cases may not be used at all or may not be used as automatically disqualifying.

BCCU generally does not use non-conviction information, such as arrest data or a record of dismissal. However, in some cases it may be used when the matter is still “pending” in a court of law. This can include old arrest or charging information which was dismissed or otherwise never pursued but which has not been updated by the original source to reflect a disposition (the outcome of the case).  Without an official update, BCCU is still required in many cases to treat this old information as “pending”.

BCCU encourages you to thoroughly review your background check information for accuracy and correct any errors or improper data with the source police department, agency, or court. BCCU may ask you to provide proof of a disposition (i.e. court documents, proof of non-prosecution) to BCCU for review. 

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The applicant may request a copy of their BCCU results from the entity that requested the background check or by sending a completed Request for Background Check Information Form to BCCU to bccuinquiry@dshs.wa.gov. Due to confidentiality reasons, BCCU cannot discuss the results over the phone with the applicant until the applicant has received their results. The applicant will need to have the results readily available when they contact BCCU to discuss the information.

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BCCU's goal is to complete a review of submitted court documents and applicant affidavits and respond to the requestor within five working days of receipt. However, the processing time will vary depending upon staff availability. Please refer to our Turnaround Times page.

After reviewing the information submitted, BCCU will contact the applicant to let them know whether or not the result notification will be updated.  If the result notification is updated, BCCU will send out an updated notification to the entity.

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Yes, you must disclose all convictions, negative actions, and pending charges.  When signing and submitting the background check form you are swearing under penalty of perjury that it is the whole truth, including all of your answers to all of the self-disclosure questions.  You should disclose all convicted and/or pending charges you have. You can attach a List of Additional Crimes or Pending Charges (DSHS 09-653D)(Word) to your Background Check Authorization Form (DSHS 09-653) (Word) listing the details of the crime, such as the conviction date (mm/dd/year), the crime convicted of, and what state the crime was convicted in. If you have a theft related crime(s), it is also helpful to include the dollar amount.

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Yes, you must disclose all convictions and/or negative actions regardless of how old they are. BCCU processes background checks for multiple programs. Each program has specific requirements/rules.

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No, you should not mark "Yes" to question 13 if you have/had your driver's license suspended. The purpose of question 13 is to determine whether a government agency has ever denied, terminated or revoked your contract or license for failing to care for children, juveniles or vulnerable adults; or if you have given up your contract or license because a government agency was taking action against you for failing to care for children, juveniles or vulnerable adults.

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Please fill out an Applicant Affidavit Form  and explain which question(s) was marked in error. Be specific and mark the box for the Self-Disclosure question number(s) that were marked in error and provide the reason why the question(s) were marked "yes" in error. If you have supporting court documents, you can send those as well.

Once the Applicant Affidavit form is complete, return it to BCCU for review. 

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A rap sheet is a record of arrests and prosecutions. Arrest events occur when a person is arrested, or when they are fingerprinted and booked.  

Each time a person is arrested and fingerprinted in Washington State, the police department sends a copy of the prints to the Washington State Patrol - WSP. All arrest fingerprints are also sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI. The FBI maintains a record of arrests from across the country. The FBI may have outdated information in their database as they rely on local police and courts to update their information.  As a result, the FBI data contains a notable amount of information with missing dispositions.

A conviction occurs when a person pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury, but for the purposes of BCCU also includes other adverse dispositions such as not guilty by reason of insanity, dismissal by reason of incompetency, and others. Conviction information is considered public information in Washington. For the purposes of a BCCU background check, a conviction that has been the subject of an expungement, pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of innocence or rehabilitation will, generally, be treated as a non-conviction. However, deferred prosecutions and deferred or suspended sentences may still be treated as convictions.

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A degree is a way to classify similar crimes according to severity. Degree details vary from state to state depending on that state’s law. Because the degree changes the nature of the crime, it’s important to accurately disclose this on the background check authorization form.

Common Washington crimes that require a degree are:

  • Theft 1, 2, and 3. Theft 1 and 2 are felony convictions. Theft 3 is a misdemeanor.
  • Washington State - Assault 1, 2, 3, and 4. Assault 1, 2 and 3 are felony convictions. Assault 4 is a misdemeanor.

Violations of Washington State’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA) or other drug related offenses are typically given an RCW section and subsection. Some common examples are:

In Washington, Municipal (city) and District (county) courts only hear misdemeanors. If a crime is being reported by a municipal or district court and does not list the degree, it is a misdemeanor. Example, a Theft 3 or an Assault 4.

If a crime is being reported by a Washington State Superior court or another source, and the degree or subsection, in the case of drug related offenses, is missing, the degree or exact nature of the offense will need to be determined by additional information furnished by the applicant.

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The disposition on a criminal record is the current status or final outcome of an arrest or prosecution. Common dispositions are:

  • Convicted: means you have plead or been found guilty by a court of law.
  • Acquitted: means you have been found not guilty by a court of law in a criminal trial.
  • Dismissed: means the court or prosecutor has decided the charge against you should not go forward, terminating the case.
  • No charges filed/Charges dropped: means the prosecutor has declined to pursue the case.
  • Vacated: means the court has withdrawn the guilty plea or set aside the guilty verdict, and for all purposes you may state you have never been convicted of that crime.
  • Sealed: means the court has restricted access to all or some of the content of the record; however, the existence of the record will still be public record. For juveniles (but NOT adults), the sealed crime is, generally, treated as if it never occurred, unless it has been subsequently unsealed.
  • Expunged: means the deletion of non-conviction information (such as arrest data).
  • Pending: means the case is still being investigated or prosecuted.
  • Diversion/Deferred Prosecution: means the court has delayed prosecution pending the successful completion of a treatment program, at which point the charges will be dismissed. Until charges are dismissed, this will be treated as pending.
  • Suspended sentence: means the court has delayed the sentencing for an offense pending the successful completion of a period of probation and/or successful completion of a treatment program. If the defendant does not break the law during that period, and fulfills the particular conditions of the probation, the judge usually reduces the degree of the offense or may dismiss the case entirely.  Until the sentence is reduced or dismissed, this will be treated as pending.

*NOTE: “Closed” is not a valid disposition, as every case eventually comes to a close regardless of the disposition. 

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BCCU does not have the ability to remove your criminal history directly. However, there are a number of methods of removing or minimizing the effects of criminal history, which may or may not be appropriate for you based on your particular situation. The common methods are: 

  • Have the non-conviction information Expunged/Deleted:
  • Have the crime Vacated:
    • Under RCW Chapter 9.96, courts are authorized to vacate the record of conviction by setting aside the guilty plea/verdict. While vacated convictions may still be discoverable, for purposes of BCCU a vacated crime is not used in determining results. A person whose conviction has been vacated may legally state they have never been convicted of that crime. Please see WA Courts guide to sealing/vacating records for more information.
  • Have the crime Sealed:
    • Under Washington state court rules, a court may seal a record to prevent access to the contents of the record. Sealing does not destroy the record or prevent the existence of the record from being reported, and the record may be subject to a future order unsealing it. For purposes of BCCU a sealed crime is not used in determining results. Please see WA Courts guide to sealing/vacating records for more information.
  • Obtain a Pardon:
    • Under the Washington state constitution the Governor may pardon an individual, which may restore certain civil rights and typically removes the conviction information from publically-accessible data. While this information may still be discoverable, BCCU treats pardoned Washington State crimes as non-convictions if they are based on rehabilitation or innocence. Please see the Clemency & Pardon Board for additional information.
  • Obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation of Opportunity (CROP):
    • Under RCW Chapter 9.97, anyone may petition the courts for a certificate of restoration of opportunity. With a CROP, in many cases you may no longer be denied for a license based solely on your conviction. However, there are many exemptions to this process that apply to DSHS. Please see WA Courts Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity brochure for more information.

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Review the Disqualifying List of Crimes and Negative Actions to see if you have criminal history information that appears on the program list that applies to your background check. If you have criminal history information under the applicable list, including negative administrative actions reported by state programs or agencies such as the Department of Health - DOH, Adult Protective Services - APS, or Child Protective Services - CPS, you may also be disqualified. All findings or negative actions must be addressed directly with the reporting source, like DOH or CPS. If a program is reporting a finding for you, the program’s contact information will be on your background check results. If you are still unsure why you are disqualified, you may contact BCCU.

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There may be different reasons why the documents you provided to clarify a crime did not change the results:

  • The clarifying documents may still list the crime as being on the applicable Disqualifying List of Crimes and Negative Actions.
  • BCCU did not receive enough information, such as the specific month, date, and year of the crime, charge and/or degree of the crime, or other details.
  • The clarifying documents did not match the background check information BCCU received from a reporting source, such as the dates, details, degree, crime(s), and state the crime was committed. If the documents do not match, the differences will be interpreted as a separate crime.

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Unless you have a conviction/charge expunged, vacated, or sealed, it may still appear on your background check regardless of time passed. Contact the court or reporting source to find out how to have convictions and/or charges removed. 

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If your charge is reported as pending, diversion, or in other deferral status, and this is INCORRECT, contact the reporting source to have the error corrected in their system.  After the error is corrected, notify BCCU to re-run your background check.

If your charge is actually pending, or in deferral/deferred, BCCU will treat the crime as pending. See Question #15 regarding disqualifications. 

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Two potential reasons:

  1. Your case is still pending.
  2. The arresting agency or court did not update your information correctly. Contact the reporting source directly if this is the case. Once updated, notify BCCU to re-run the background check.

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BCCU may ask you for more information before completing your background check. If we cannot accurately determine a result (no record, record, or disqualify) from the criminal history information that is provided to us, the background check will stay in incomplete status until more information is provided.

This information is frequently used to clarify or to provide context to the crime. Although each additional information request is different, some of the common requests are:

  • For Theft, Larceny, Shoplifting, & Embezzlement charges: What property/services/items were stolen? What was the dollar value of the goods stolen?
  • For Assault, Domestic Violence, & Battery charges: Who was the victim(s)? What injuries did the victim sustain? What weapon(s), if any, were used?
  • For Burglary, Residential Burglary, & Robbery charges: What type of structure was burglarized? Were any weapons used? Did any assaults occur during the crime or while leaving the crime?
  • For Drug related charges: Explanation of circumstances including actions that led to the arrest, the nature of the substance, the purpose of the possession (personal use, sales, delivery, cultivation, manufacture).

If you have not received your Additional Information Needed packet, please fill out the Applicant Request for a Copy of Background Check Information Form. If you have any questions about the information BCCU is requesting, please call BCCU Processing Staff at (360) 902-7538 or email BCCUTechnicalInquiry@dshs.wa.gov

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Your answers to self-disclosure questions become part of your background check history and are stored in BCCU’s criminal history database.  Self-disclosures are reported as part of your background check result like any other background check history we receive.  It is important that your answers to self-disclosure questions are accurate and consistent.   It is recommended that you answer self-disclosure questions the same way each time you complete the Background Check Authorization Form unless the question has changed or the previous answer was wrong.  It is highly recommended that you refer to your court records, charging papers, or other official documents before answering self-disclosure questions.  Inaccurate or missing information may result in a delay in processing your background check. 

If you have multiple self-disclosures, please attach List of Additional Crimes or Pending Charges (DSHS 09-653D) (WORD) or an additional sheet of paper with full name, date of birth, crimes and/or pending charges, degree, state, and conviction date.

Also, see the Background Check Authorization Form (Word) instructions on pages two and three.

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BCCU requires additional information for us to process your background check.  The following steps outline the process necessary for the applicant to follow in order for their background check to be completed:

1.      Review the information you need to provide and/or clarify identified in your Additional Information Needed packet, including the attached copy of your background check information. 

2.      If you have questions, contact BCCU at (360) 902-7538 or BCCUtechnicalinquiry@dshs.wa.gov.  Please make sure you have a copy of your background check information you received from BCCU readily available when you call. Include your full name, telephone number with area code, and Inquiry ID/OCA number in any voicemail or email.

3.      Send in requested Court Documents and/or Applicant Affidavit via fax (360) 902-0292, email BCCUinquiry@dshs.wa.gov, OR mail BCCU PO Box 45025, Olympia, WA 98504-5025. Applicants must provide needed information on requested documents (Court Documents and/or Applicant Affidavit).  DO NOT answer additional information needed questions on the Additional Information Needed to Complete Background Check slip-sheet.

Review current Turnaround Times for Court Documents and Applicant Affidavits for expected processing times. 

The applicant will NOT be able schedule a fingerprint appointment until additional information is provided and BCCU completes the background check interim notification. 

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The applicant will need to contact the court listed on the background check results and ask to have the information updated in the court database. BCCU cannot contact the court or correct the information reported for the applicant.

  • Washington State Patrol: (360) 534-2000
  • Department of Corrections: (360) 725-8888
  • Washington Courts: Contact the specific Washington State court reporting the information

If the court updated the reported information and you believe the update will change the results of your background check, contact BCCU after the court has updated the information in their system. You will need to provide BCCU your OCA number and request BCCU to rerun your background check. BCCU will review your criminal history information from all data sources and determine if an updated result notification can be issued.

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The applicant must disclose all convictions and/or negative actions regardless of how old they are. BCCU processes background checks for multiple programs. Each program has specific requirements/rules. 

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BCCU does not determine whether an individual is able to work for a facility.  BCCU provides the results received from the Fingerprint Checks and the Name and Date of Birth Checks. Contact the DSHS program that is requiring a background check for additional information.

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