All people have a past, but not all people’s pasts are documented in a criminal record. If you have a charge or conviction on your record and a clean criminal record since that incident, you may be eligible to have your charge or conviction expunged from your record. Consideration of expungement may be particularly helpful if you want a professional license under Oklahoma law or where a background check is required for any employment, housing, or other opportunity. A granted expungement seals your record and opens you to more opportunities.
If eligible, your expungement may be quickly granted. Fifteen categories exist of expungement eligibility, but the most common include the following:
- A misdemeanor or felony charge where all charges were dismissed.
- A misdemeanor charge that was dismissed following a successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence and at least one year has passed since the dismissal.
- A nonviolent felony charge that was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence and at least five years have passed since the dismissal.
- A misdemeanor conviction with a fine less than $501 and without a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence.
- A misdemeanor conviction with a term of imprisonment, a suspended sentence, or a fine of more than $500 and at least five years have passed since the end of the sentence.
- A nonviolent felony conviction and at least five years have passed since the completion of the sentence.
- Two felony convictions and at least 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence.
- A crime was committed under your name after you were the victim of identity theft.
These categories often include other requirements like no additional or pending felony or misdemeanor charges.
Filing for expungement is fairly simple and quick. It takes approximately two to three months from start to finish in most cases for an expungement to be ordered by a court. If you wish to seek an expungement, a petition for expungement is filed in the district court of the district where the arrest or proceedings occurred. Once filed, the court will set a hearing on the petition for expungement and provide 30 days of notice of the hearing to the prosecuting agency, the arresting agency, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and any other person or agency that may have information relating to the sealing of the relevant records. At the hearing, if no interested party objects and if the petition sufficiently demonstrates that the petitioner meets the criteria, then the judge may order the sealing of the relevant records.
Once sealed, no one may view those records without petitioning the court for an order to unseal the records or review the records. You are therefore protected from employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, and officials viewing your records or asking in an interview, application, or otherwise, about disclosure of the sealed records.
If you think you may be eligible, consult an attorney as to whether filing for an expungement is the right step for you.
* This article first appeared in The Journal Record on January 29, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the publisher.