A criminal record can have a significant impact on your life, affecting your employment opportunities, housing prospects, and even your personal relationships. If you have a criminal record, you may be eligible for expungement, a legal process that can seal your record and make it inaccessible to the public. Understanding the eligibility criteria, benefits, and essential steps involved is crucial.
Let’s explore how you can pave the way to a clean slate and a better future!
Eligibility for Expungements in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law allows for the expungement of certain criminal records. In general, you may be eligible for expungement if:
- You were not convicted of a felony; or
- You were convicted of a felony but have not been convicted of another felony within the past 10 years; or
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor but have not been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony within the past 7 years.
- You may also be eligible for expungement if you were arrested but never charged with a crime, or if your case was dismissed or deferred.
Benefits of Expungements
There are many benefits to expunging your criminal record. Expungement can:
- Improve your employment prospects: Many employers do not consider applicants with criminal records, even if they have been convicted of minor offenses or have not been convicted of a crime in many years. Expungement can make it easier to find a job.
- Reduce housing discrimination: Landlords are often reluctant to rent to tenants with criminal records. Expungement can make it easier to find a place to live.
- Improve your credit score: Criminal records can sometimes negatively impact your credit score. Expungement can help to improve your credit score.
- Protect your privacy: Expungement can prevent your criminal record from being disclosed to the public. This can protect your privacy and make it easier to rebuild your life.
Serve Notice: You will need to serve notice of the petition on the district attorney’s office and any other parties who may have an interest in the case.
The Expungement Process in Oklahoma
- Consultation with an Attorney: Begin by seeking guidance from a knowledgeable expungement attorney. They will evaluate your case, explain the eligibility criteria, and outline the steps involved.
- Record Gathering: Collect all relevant documents, including court records, case details, and certificates of completion for any rehabilitation programs or probation.
- Filing the Petition: Your attorney will prepare and file the expungement petition with the district court in the county where the offense occurred. The petition will require you to provide information about your criminal record and evidence supporting your eligibility, as well as the reasons why you are seeking expungement.
- Background Check: The court will conduct a background check to verify your eligibility and assess any opposition from law enforcement agencies. Having accurate and complete documentation is crucial during this stage.
- Expungement Hearing: Attend the expungement hearing, where your case will be reviewed by the court. Your attorney will present your case, emphasizing your rehabilitation and the positive changes in your life. You may be required to testify at the hearing.
- Post-Expungement Responsibilities: After a successful expungement, it’s essential to update your personal records, including employment and educational information. Adhering to any post-expungement responsibilities outlined by the court is crucial for maintaining a clean record.
Once your record has been expunged, there are a few things you need to keep in mind
- You are still legally obligated to report any criminal convictions to the authorities, such as when applying for a job or a security clearance.
- Your expungement order may be revoked if you are convicted of a new crime.
- It is important to keep track of your expungement order and to notify the court if you need to change your address or other information.
How to Start the Expungement Process
Expungement can be a powerful tool for those who have a criminal record because you can take steps to move on from your past and build a better future. If you are considering expungement, we encourage you to contact an experienced expungement attorney to discuss your options and guide you through the process.
At Cannon & Associates, we have the experience and expertise to help you obtain an expungement in Oklahoma. We will work with you to understand your eligibility requirements and prepare a strong case.