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A Clean Slate: Oklahoma Expungement Law

Article by Dave Smythe

The negative impact of criminal record can last far beyond the trial and sentencing. A history of arrest, criminal charges, and conviction carry a stigma that can make ordinary tasks-like being accepted into college or finding a good job-nearly impossible. Many people don’t realize that arrest records are still available even if they were not convicted or if their sentences were deferred. In order to have those records cleared in Oklahoma, one needs to petition the court for an expungement.

Oklahoma expungement attorney

An expungement is the legal process of having criminal records sealed from public view. In many counties in Oklahoma, a motion to expunge is filed in the criminal case; however, in Oklahoma County, a petition for expungement is filed in civil court. An Oklahoma expungement lawyer can help the client petition the appropriate court to have his or her record sealed.Under Oklahoma law, there are two types of expungements. The most common type is Title 22 O.S. §991c of the Oklahoma Statutes. This type of expungement allows the sealing of one’s court record after the completion of a deferred sentence following a plea of guilt or no contest. While this removes the defendant’s name from the court docket and from public records, it does not completely eliminate his or her association with the charge. The criminal history remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). A §991c expungement has no impact on the arrest record with the OSBI.The second type of expungement is more desirable to those seeking to have their records cleared, but it is also more difficult to obtain. Title 22 O.S. §18 allows for not only the sealing of court records from public view, but also for the purging of arrest records, including those in the OSBI’s criminal history records. In order to be eligible for a §18 expungement, the petitioner must meet one of ten criteria:* The person has been acquitted.* The conviction was reversed and the charge was dismissed.* Factual innocence was proven through DNA evidence after the conviction.* The person has received a full pardon from the Governor.* No charges were filed after the arrest, or charges were dismissed within one year of arrest.* The statute of limitations on the offense expired, and no charges were filed.* The person was a juvenile (under 18 years old) at the time the offense was committed, and he or she has received a full pardon.* The offense was a misdemeanor, and ten years have passed since judgment with no further misdemeanors or felony charges in the meantime.* The offense was a nonviolent felony, the person has received a full pardon, and ten years have passed with no other felony or misdemeanor charges or convictions. * The person was arrested or charged with a crime that was committed by someone else using that person’s name or ID without consent.Even if one qualifies under §991c or §18, an expungement is not guaranteed. The OSBI can object to an expungement if they feel that maintaining a public record of the criminal history serves the public interest more than it hinders the individual who is petitioning for expungement. For this reason, and to ensure proper petitioning procedures under Title 22 O.S. §19, it is important for anyone seeking to clear his or her arrest record or history of criminal charges and convictions to seek the assistance of an experienced Oklahoma expungement attorney with a proven record of helping clients successfully clean the slate. An expungement is an effective way of unburdening the past and allowing oneself to seek a brighter future.

About the Author

My name is Dave Smythe.

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