What is an Expungement?

An expungement is simply a tool that prevents the public from having access to court records and/or arrest records. In Oklahoma, an expungement does not erase your criminal record, rather it seals it from public access. When you obtain an expungement order from an Oklahoma district court, your arrest and criminal records will not be erased, rather they will be sealed and not made available to the public.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court Network (“OSCN”), oscn.net, has an incredible amount of information concerning court cases. Without an expungement order, your misdemeanor case, felony case, or the probable cause filing are public record and can be accessed from any computer. For example, if you were arrested for a DUI in Oklahoma City and charged with misdemeanor DUI in Oklahoma County, the following information will likely be available for anyone with computer access:

  1. The date of your DUI arrest;
  2. The allegations supporting your DUI charges;
  3. The information or charging document in your DUI; 
  4. Whether or not you contested your DUI charges or entered a plea; and
  5. The outcome of your DUI trial or the specific details of your DUI plea

The craziest fact concerning court records in Oklahoma, is that this list does not cover all the information available about your criminal case on OSCN. Without an expungement all of this information is available to the public by simply searching your name on OSCN or contacting the Court Clerk, even if your DUI case was eventually dismissed or any other criminal case is eventually dismissed. With technology access ever increasing, it is crucial you exercise your right to seek an expungement and have your criminal records sealed from public view. 

Some parties will not qualify for a complete expungement; however, you may qualify for a partial expungement of your criminal records. When you receive a partial expungement, a portion of your criminal record will be sealed and the record will change from a deferred sentence, not a conviction, to “Pled Not Guilty Case Dismissed.” Although a partial expungement is inferior to a full expungement, it does place your criminal record in a far better light than the complete record being visible for all to see online at the click of a button. 

What Records can be Expunged in Oklahoma?

The most important records sealed by an expungement in Oklahoma are court records, i.e. the record of you being charged with a crime in district court and the outcome, on OSCN. However, your criminal records are kept by a number of other sources, unless you obtain a court order for expungement. An expungement in Oklahoma can result in removing criminal records from public view on ODCR.com, which is another court record website, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (“OSBI”), law enforcement agencies, police records, Court Clerk, the Pardon and Parole Board, and the Department of Corrections. 

In addition to official state record keeping agencies expunging or sealing your criminal record, your information can be removed from third-party reporting agencies and background checks. However, an important caveat to background checks, your criminal record and arrest record will be sealed from background checks conducted by private entities, i.e. a non-government job, but it will still be visible in government background checks or security clearance checks. As stated above, your criminal records are not erased by an expungement, rather they are sealed and not visible to the public. Government agencies that conduct a background check on you will likely still be able to access all information.

Although the government will still be able to access information on your arrest and criminal case, the public will not be able to see your criminal history after an expungement in Oklahoma. You would be telling a potential employee the truth in the eyes of the law, if you told them you did not have any criminal record, after obtaining an expungement. The absence of a criminal record gives you an easier path to better employment, improved housing, access to public assistance programs, better rates on insurance, and best of all an expungement gives you the peace of mind that no one will know about your past.

In addition to the benefits of an expungement in Oklahoma discussed above, you may also have some of your civil rights restored, including voting rights and potential your gun rights. 

What are the Requirements for an Expungement?

The requirements for an expungement in Oklahoma are rather complex. However, the process for determining whether or not you are qualified to seek an expungement begins with evaluation the variety of qualifications for expungement and determining whether or not you qualify under one or many of the criteria for an expungement in Oklahoma. 

Many of the requirements to qualify for an expungement require a specific amount of time has passed since your case was resolved. The waiting period to seek an expungement in Oklahoma goes along with other conditions that must be present in order for you to qualify.  

In addition to meeting the criteria to seek an expungement in Oklahoma, you must obtain the consent of interested parties or prevail at a hearing in District Court on your request for an expungement. The details of seeking consent of interested parties in your expungement or fighting to convince the Court in a contested expungement will be explained in the following section, The Oklahoma Expungement Process. However, first let us review the specific qualifications for seeking an expungement in Oklahoma. 

What are the Qualifications for Expungement in Oklahoma?

In order to see, if you qualify for an expungement in Oklahoma, you should review your arrest record, criminal charges, and the outcome of your criminal case, including convictions to see, if you qualify for an expungement. In order to access a complete list with statutory references for expungement, read the following article on the specific qualifications for an expungement in Oklahoma 15 Ways to be Eligible for a Criminal Expungement. The following is an abbreviated list of the most common ways to qualify for an expungement in Oklahoma:

Most Common Qualifications for Expungement

  • You were acquitted at trial.
  • You were arrested; however, no charges were filed and sufficient time has passed
  • You were charged with a crime, but your charges have been dismissed and sufficient time has passed
  • You were convicted; however, the conviction has been overturned
  • You were convicted; however, you received a pardon
  • You were exonerated
  • DNA evidence has proven your innocent
  • Someone was charged or convicted, using your name

Less Common Qualifications for Expungement

  • You were convicted of a misdemeanor
  • You successfully completed the terms of your deferred sentence or suspended sentence, you meet additional criteria, if applicable, and sufficient time has passed
  • You were convicted of a non-violent felony, sufficient time has passed, and you meet additional qualifications 
  • You received a juvenile conviction
  • You received a $500 fine only on your misdemeanor case

What Will an Expungement Cost in Oklahoma?

In addition to hiring an experienced Oklahoma City expungement attorney, you will have costs associated with your expungement case. The first cost to consider in your expungement is the filing fee. Expungement cases are not filed in the original criminal case, instead you must file a civil case and pay the filing fee. The filing fee for an expungement varies by district court; however, the following list is a safe approximation of the cost of an expungement in Oklahoma: 

  • Expungement Filing Fee: $100.00 (approximately)
  • Court Costs: $150.00 (approximately)
  • OSBI Criminal History Report: $15.00
  • OSBI Processing Fee: $150.00
  • Law Enforcement Processing Fee: $25.00

The costs will vary; however, every office involved in the process of sealing your records is entitled to a fee, which is generally reflected above. Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney or expungement attorney is the best investment you can make in this process. Our office handles these matters as flat fees, with set costs for the entire process. Legal fees vary; however, considering the lifetime impact of expunging your criminal record will have, the costs is truly an investment in your future. 

What’s the Oklahoma Expungement Process?  

Once we determine you are eligible for an expungement in Oklahoma, the expungement process at its most basic level consists of the following: we will draft a petition for expungement and file it in district court where the records exist; once the expungement petition is filed, your expungement case may be presented to the court; we will seek the agreement of all necessary parties to the expungement, however, if not all parties agree; we will represent you in the contested expungement hearing, if necessary; and finally we will present an order for expungement to the court and ensure certified copies are served on all necessary parties. 

Even with the very abbreviated process discussed above, you may find the process to seek an expungement too much on your own. The difficulty of the expungement process can be removed from your shoulders by hiring an experienced expungement attorney. We will perform every necessary step on your behalf and ensure you understand each step of the process before it happens. The steps in a contested expungement consist of the following, which we will handle for you, if we are your expungement lawyer: 

  1. Identify and collect the documentation indicating you are eligible for expungement in Oklahoma;
  2.  Draft your expungement petition, addressing all necessary factual and legal issues and filing it in the appropriate district court;
  3. Serve every interested party, including OSBI, the District Attorney, the law enforcement agency involved, and the complaining witness(es) or petitioner in a VPO expungement; 
  4. Presenting a copy of the filed expungement petition to the assigned district court judge and scheduling a hearing on the petition for expungement;
  5. Notify all interested parties of the hearing date, including the prosecutor and counsel for the law enforcement agency and OSBI’s general counsel;
  6. At the hearing on your expungement, the judge will compare your interests in seeking an expungement and the public interest(s), if any are presented, in denying your petition for expungement; 
  7. We will present an Order for Expungement of all records to the judge and if we are successful in the hearing on expungement, the judge will sign the Order and we will file the Order with the court clerk; 
  8. Finally, we will provide the necessary parties and record keepers a certified file stamped copy of the Court Order and upon payment of the filing fees, your records will be expunged and be removed from public records. 

The office that is involved in every expungement in Oklahoma, General Counsel for OSBI, recommends you retain an experienced expungement attorney to assist you with this process. You may legally seek expungement without counsel; however, OSBI and the Judge cannot and will not give you legal advice. You will be held to the same standard as an attorney and your petition, order, and the process must be handled correctly or your petition will simply be rejected. This is not said to coerce you to hire us; however, you must know that you need to hire an experienced attorney to assist you with your expungement or else it may be rejected and you will have to begin again. 

Do I Need an Expungement Attorney?

As discussed above, you are not required to hire an expungement attorney in order to obtain an expungement. However, you will be held to the same standard as an attorney and you must identify all the necessary information in your Petition for Expungement for the Judge to consider. It is important to the success of your Petition for Expungement that you clearly and briefly identify the necessary information for the Judge considering your request for an expungement. In order to prevail on your expungement, you must convince the Judge evaluating your request for expungement of the following: 

  • You are legally eligible for an expungement
  • You are remorseful for the underlying events
  • You are now a productive member of the community
  • You require the relief provided by the expungement
  • The benefits to you in receiving the expungement outweigh the public interests in the information remaining a public record

As with any legal issue, working with the right professional increases the chances of your receiving the relief you seek and your matter being handled in a timely and easily digested process. Your chances of receiving the expungement you desire improve with each of the following steps:

  1. An excellent Petition for Expungement
  2. Precisely following all court rules and procedures
  3. Appearing in a professional manner before the Court
  4. Professionally interacting with all necessary parties
  5. Drafting an accurate and complete Order for Expungement
  6. Ensuring your Order for Expungement is handled in accordance with all agency requirements

Identifying and hiring the right expungement attorney will make ensuring each of these steps is followed much easier. You are making an investment in your future by hiring the right expungement attorney to help you through this process. Your Fierce Advocates™ at Cannon & Associates have the experience and reputation to need to ensure you achieve the outcome you seek in your expungement. 

 Next Steps in Your Expungement Process

Contact our firm today! We’re glad to schedule a free case strategy session with you and discuss the requirements for an expungement and your specific situation in more detail. Whether you decide to work with us or not, we want you to receive value from meeting with us.  

Cannon & Associates: Fierce Advocates for Expungement

Having a criminal record open for all to see, when you are eligible for an expungement can impact many aspects of your life. Having an open criminal record or arrest record can shut the door to many opportunities. Cannon & Associates can help in both instances. 

Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free case strategy session to see, if you qualify for expungement under Oklahoma law.