Cleaning a criminal record is also known as Expungement. Under Oklahoma’s law, there are two types of expungements; arrest expungement – also called “section 18 expungement” and deferred sentences expungement – also called “991c expungement.” An arrest or section 18 expungement seals arrest records thus blocking them from public access. This type of expungement provides the maximum benefit as it seals any record of your criminal charges and arrest from public access.
With a Section 18 expungement in Oklahoma, it is possible to claim the arrest never occurred. On the other hand, the 991c expungement offers many advantages but it does not provide as much benefit as an Oklahoma Section 18 Expungement.
The Oklahoma expungement laws allow eligible people with an arrest or conviction record to apply for their records to be sealed from public access. To achieve this, the defendant has to enter a formal expungement process, typically with the assistance of an experienced Oklahoma expungement attorney.
How to Expunge an Arrest and/or Charge in Oklahoma
The Section 18 Expungement allows qualified persons to seal their criminal records, including records of arrests. This type of expungement is comprehensive and is defined by 22 O.S. § 18 as sealing of criminal records including civil public records initiated by and against the State of Oklahoma. The sealed records will also involve all transactions or occurrences associated with the arrest.
Eligibility for Section 18 Expungement
There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a person to qualify for a Section 18 Expungement. In the case of a misdemeanor expungement, you must wait for one year following completion of dismissal of charges. In the case of felony expungement in Oklahoma, the charged must have been dismissed at least five years prior to filing for expungement. The criteria for eligibility for an Oklahoma Section 18 Expungement includes the following:
- He/She has been acquitted
- The defendant’s conviction was reversed or dismissed with an instruction given by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction
- The defendant’s factual innocence was established through DNA evidence
- The defendant has received a full pardon
- The defendant was arrested but no charges were pressed
- The defendant had committed the offense at an age below 18 and has subsequently received a full pardon for the offense
- The defendant was charged with one or more misdemeanor of felony crimes but all charges were dismissed; the defendant has never been convicted of a felony; the defendant has no misdemeanor or felony charges pending against them; has exceeded the statute of limitations within which charges may be re-filed against them, or the prosecution has confirmed that no further legal steps will be taken.
- The defendant was charged with a misdemeanor but the charges were dismissed following the successful completion of deferred judgment or delayed sentence; the defendant has no pending case against them and the expungement is being filed at least one year after the charge was dismissed.
- The defendant was charged with a non-violent felony offense not contained in 57 O.S. § 571, and the charge was dismissed after the completion of a delayed sentence or deferred judgment; the defendant has no prior convictions and the case is at least five years old.
- The defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor offense and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a fine of over $500, a suspended sentence, and has never been convicted of a felony; no felony or misdemeanor charges pending, and the sentence was completed no less than five years prior to filing.
- The defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, was fined an amount less than $501, escaped prison term or suspended sentence, has no prior record of a felony conviction, and has no pending criminal case against them. (This basis for expungement may be a motivation to seek a conviction with a fine of $500 or less, as you would be able to seek immediate expungement of the conviction.)
- The defendant was convicted of not more than two non-violent felonies, has not been convicted of any offense that requires registration as a sex offender, has no pending criminal charges against them, and at least ten years have passed since the completion of the sentence as of November 1, 2019.
- The defendant was convicted of a nonviolent felony, has no prior felony convictions, has never been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in seven years, and has no pending criminal charges in the last five years since the completion of the felony conviction sentence.
- The defendant was convicted of a nonviolent felony that was reclassified as a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law, the defendant is currently serving a sentence for a crime in Oklahoma or another state; at least 30 days have passed since the completion or commutation of the sentence for the reclassified crime, court-ordered restitution has been paid in full, court-ordered treatment programs have been completed.
- The defendant has been charged, arrested, or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed in their name or identity by another person without authorization.
- A defendant who is a victim of human trafficking and facing prostitution-related offenses
- Victims of identity theft can have their information expunged.
Although the current Oklahoma expungement laws still prohibit some former offenders from seeking expungement of your Oklahoma criminal record, it does provide an avenue for many people to seal their criminal record.
The Oklahoma Expungement Process
A person who wishes to expunge his or her arrest record will begin by filing an expungement petition based on Section 18 in the district court where the arrest occurred or criminal charges were filed. A court will set a date to sit on the matter and will provide a thirty-day notice period to the arresting agency, prosecuting agency, the OSBI, and any other involved agency.
The court clerk will provide a hearing date and a copy of the petition to expunge will be served to the involved parties. You may be able to avoid a hearing on your expungement, if you or your Oklahoma expungement attorney can obtain the agreement of necessary parties for the expungement.
However, you will need to prepare to argue on your behalf, if a hearing is necessary to obtain an expungement in your case. During the hearing, the petitioner seeking an expungement will be required to answer some questions after which the judge sitting on the matter will determine whether to seal some or all of the defendant’s records.
For more information on the detailed process for seeking an expungement in Oklahoma, visit the following page on our website:
Conclusion: Seeking an Expungement in Oklahoma