There are two types of criminal expungements in Oklahoma: arrest expungement and 991c expungement. Arrest expungements, Section 18 expungements, seal you arrest record from public view. The second type of expungement, 991c expungement, is an expungement action against your criminal case. The second type of expungement is often referred to as expungement lite, because it falls short of sealing all records of your criminal case from public access.
Expungement in Oklahoma is synonymous with having the record “sealed”, not erased. After an Oklahoma expungement action is complete, the records will not be visible to the public; however, law enforcement will still be able to see the record of your criminal case or arrest. A Section 18 expungement, arrest expungement, is the only way to have an arrest record or probable cause filing record sealed. The process will never take place automatically and with the prevalence of OSCN and OCDR, it is a process you should consider for the reasons laid out below.
Arrest and Criminal Charge Expungement in Oklahoma
As stated above Section 18 Expungements are the same as an arrest expungement. Section 18 expungements seal arrest and other records to everyone, except law enforcement and prosecutors. Section 18 expungements are the most comprehensive expungement type under Oklahoma law. Section 18 expungements are codified at you guessed it, Section 18 of Title 22 of Oklahoma Statutes. This type of expungement is defined as, the sealing of criminal records, as well as any civil public record, involving actions brought by and against the State of Oklahoma arising from the same arrest, transaction, or occurrence.
Who is Eligible for an Arrest Expungement in Oklahoma?
By statute and from our expungement attorneys’ experience, the following circumstances make you eligible to seek an arrest or OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 §18 expungement:
- You were acquittal of your charges;
- Your conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the prosecuting agency subsequently dismissed the charge;
- Your factual innocence was established by the use of DNA evidence subsequent to conviction, including if you were released from prison at the time innocence was established;
- You received a full pardon by the Governor for the crime for which you were sentenced;
- You were arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than your originally arrest, are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;
- You were under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the offense was committed and you have received a full pardon for the offense;
- You were charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, you have never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against you and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence;
- You were charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, you have never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against you and at least one (1) year has passed since your charge was dismissed;
- You were charged with a nonviolent felony offense not listed in OKLA. STAT. tit. 57 § 571, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, you have never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against you and at least five (5) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you were sentenced to a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or less, without a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence, the fine has been paid or satisfied by time served in lieu of the fine, you have not been convicted of a felony and no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against you;
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a suspended sentence or a fine in an amount greater than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), you have not been convicted of a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against you and at least five (5) years have passed since the end of your last misdemeanor sentence;
- You were convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not a felony listed in the Violent Offender list, OKLA. STAT. tit. 57 § 572, you have not been convicted of any other felony, you have not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last seven (7) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against you and at least five (5) years have passed since the completion of the sentence for the felony conviction;
- You were convicted of not more than two felony offenses, none of which is a felony offense, requiring Sex Offender Registration, as listed in OKLA. STAT. tit. 21 § 13.1, or any offense that would require you to register pursuant to the provisions of the Sex Offenders Registration Act, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against you, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the completion of the sentence for the felony conviction;
- You were charged, arrested or are the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used your name or other identification without your consent or authorization; or
- You were convicted of a nonviolent felony offense not listed in the Violent Offender list, OKLA. STAT. tit. 57 § 572, which was subsequently reclassified as a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law, you are not currently serving a sentence for a crime in this state or another state, at least thirty (30) days have passed since the completion or commutation of your sentence for the crime reclassified as a misdemeanor, any restitution ordered by the court to be paid by you has been satisfied in full, and you have successfully completed any treatment program ordered by the court, including a failed treatment program, which resulted in an accelerated or revoked sentence, which has now been successfully completed by you or you can show successful completion of a treatment program at a later date.
- Your conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction, and the prosecuting agency subsequently dismissed the charge;
What is the Process to Expunge an Arrest or Charge in Oklahoma?
The first step in seeking an arrest expungement: The first step in seeking an arrest expungement is to get a copy of your criminal background report from OSBI. Our office is in regular communication with OSBI and can take this initial step for you or you can fill out the OSBI Criminal History Report Request and return it to their office by hand, mail, or fax. The report costs $15.00. You can obtain a copy of the form by visiting our resource section, which has a link to the OSBI form.
The second step in seeking an arrest expungement: retain an experienced Oklahoma expungement lawyer. The laws related to Oklahoma Section 18 expungements expanded greatly in 2019; however, you still need the assistance of an experienced expungement lawyer to assist you in obtaining an expungement in a reasonable period of time. An experienced expungement attorney can help you determine, if you qualify, explain the expungement process to you and help you determine, if it is a worthwhile investment.
The third step in seeking an arrest expungement: Your Oklahoma expungement attorney will petition the District Court of the County, if you qualify for a Section 18 arrest expungement, in which you were arrested and other information related to your arrest record occurred. Once the Petition is filed, your expungement attorney will forward a file stamped copy of your expungement petition to all interested parties’ counsel: prosecution office, the arresting agency, OSBI, and all other agencies that may have an interested in the sealing of your arrest records. A hearing on your expungement petition will be scheduled by the Court and 30 days-notice must be given to each interested party.
Within the 30 days between the hearing date being scheduled and the actual hearing, your expungement attorney will seek the agreement of all parties to an Order for expungement, i.e. the District Attorney, arresting agency/police department, OSBI, and other interested parties. The order can be signed and filed without the necessity of a contested hearing, if your expungement attorney is able to obtain the agreement of all interested parties.
At the contested hearing or upon the signature of all interested parties, the judge will determine, if your proposed expungement order will be signed, granted, or not signed, denied. If a contested hearing is held, you will be asked questions by the assigned judge. The judge will seek input from your attorney and the other parties that appear to contest the expungement and will decide to seal all, some, or none of the records. Additionally, the judge can limit the access to your records
. Your expungement attorney should advocate that a harm to your privacy and other dangers warrant the sealing of the records and those interests outweigh the public interest. The court has the authority to limit access to the record or seal them completely, if the court finds any other action would not serve the ends of justice.
Multiple arrests can be expunged in one petition, if they occurred within the same County in Oklahoma. Any interested party can object and contest your expungement, which will require your expungement attorney to fight for your expungement in a contested hearing.
How Long does an Arrest Expungement Take in Oklahoma?
Arrest expungement from filing to sealing takes two to three months in Oklahoma. As stated above, the paperwork in an expungement case takes roughly 30 days from filing to hearing date, which allows for all interested parties, including OSBI, the District Attorney, and arresting agency, to be served. Once the expungement order is signed, your expungement lawyer will file the order and serve every party with a certified copy of the expungement order. The court clerk and interested parties will likely be able to complete the expungement process within 30 days. You may verify completion of the arrest expungement by sending a second request to OSBI.
What can I do, if I’m Not Eligible for an Arrest Expungement in Oklahoma?
In most instances, you can simply wait until you become eligible for expungement. As stated above, many categories of arrest expungements simply require the necessary time frame to run prior to obtaining an expungement:
- One (1) year after completion of a deferred sentence;
- Five (5) years for a misdemeanor conviction, misdemeanor jail time, or fine over $500;
- Five (5) years after completion of multiple misdemeanors; or
- Five (5) years since the completion of a non-violent felony deferred sentence.
Additionally, most arrest expungements require you to not have any pending criminal charges; therefore, you must stay out of criminal trouble and avoid criminal charges of any kind. You will likely have to wait even longer, if you have new pending criminal charges or were arrested.
Further, one or two non-violent felony convictions require a governor’s pardon. You must first obtain a pardon in order to have felony convictions expunged in Oklahoma. Therefore, prior to seeking an expungement of a felony conviction, you will need to complete the pardon application process.
What Happens After my Arrest or Conviction is Expunged?
Once a Section 18 expungement is entered your arrest and/or conviction will be sealed by OSBI and the district court clerk. Anyone, including employers that seek information from OSBI will receive a notice that no records exist when OSBI sends a return.
The district court record on OSCN, ODCR, or in person will not be available to the public after a Section 18 expungement. The attorney general, the district attorney, prosecution office, or law enforcement agency will be the only parties with access to the records after a Section 18 expungement. Any records sealed by a Section 19 expungement can be destroyed at the end of a ten-year waiting period, if unsealed.
Records sealed by a OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 § 19 expungement may be unsealed upon a successful petition by OSBI, the prosecution office, or arresting agency, if the Court enters an Order unsealing the expungement; however, you would have an opportunity to appear and contest these orders as well.
What are your Rights After your Expungement?
With very few exceptions, you do not have to admit to having had an arrest or criminal case expunged after the fact. The law governing what you can and cannot deny having your record expunged is contained in the section following Section 18 expungements, OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 §19. You cannot be denied a job or application for a lease or mortgage based on an expunged case. Additionally, you will not be required to include an expunged arrest on a Self-Defense Application.
Under Oklahoma law, once the order to seal the records has been entered, it is deemed the action never occurred, except for prosecution, law enforcement, and a very few other circumstances. The following entities cannot require your disclosure of sealed expunged records:
- Higher Education Institutions/Universities;
- State and municipal agencies;
- State and municipal officials; and
- Other many application processes.
It is important to remember that the Oklahoma expungement statutes have authority over Oklahoma state officials/agencies and municipal or other officials/agencies within the confines or authority of the state of Oklahoma, i.e. NOT the federal government, which is not subject ot Oklahoma law. The federal government has authority based on federal law and federal administrative authority, not state law. Therefore, Oklahoma expungement laws do not bind federal agencies, including the military.
Are Any Records not Expungable in Oklahoma?
Physical evidence is not required to be destroyed under any of the Oklahoma expungement statutes. Therefore, OSBI can and does maintain fingerprint cards after expungements are granted. Public records of events are not expunged either. Therefore, if a news story was done
about your arrest or criminal charge, it will still be available to the public. However, most people’s arrests are not news-worthy fortunately.
Do I need an Expungement Attorney?
It is possible to seek and obtain an expungement without an experienced criminal defense attorney; however, it is a complicated process and you are held to the standard of all parties to correctly process an expungement petition. A simple analogy is this, it is possible to build a house with the proper supplies and enough research; however, the pain of going through that process typically warrants hiring an expert builder. Hiring an experienced expungement attorney is an investment in your future and will help you navigate the complex process of seeking an expungement.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SEALED RECORD AND AN EXPUNGED RECORD?
Surprisingly, these two terms mean the same thing under Oklahoma criminal law. A criminal expungement in Oklahoma is really a sealing of the record from public view/access. Therefore, your Section 18 or Section 991c expungement erases public access to your charge(s), not the charge(s) itself.
WILL MY RECORD BE EXPUNGED AUTOMATICALLY?
No, your record will not be automatically expunged. This is an unfortunately common misconception under Oklahoma criminal expungement law. Many individuals wrongly believe their case will be expunged after their deferred sentence is over; however, it is not that simple. Even cases taken off the OSCN website are not necessarily removed/expunged from the OSBI records. Although, the record may not be visible online; it is still maintained by OSBI and available when someone digs for information.
CAN POLICE SEE MY ARREST OR CHARGES AFTER AN EXPUNGEMENT?
Yes, criminal “expungements” in Oklahoma are actually the sealing of your record. The record is sealed to everyone, except law enforcement. Even complete expungement under Section 18, removing an arrest record, are still visible to law enforcement. However, Section 18 expungements will remove the ability of someone conducting a civilian background check to see the arrest record.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR EXPUNGEMENT?
You must meet at least one of the listed requirements in OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 § 18 to qualify for an expungement in Oklahoma:
- First offense;
- Non-violent offense and 10 years have passed without new charges;
- Acquitted of charges;
- Conviction was reversed;
- Pardon granted;
- Under 18 at the time of the offense;
- The charges were dismissed
CAN ANY RECORDS NEVER BE EXPUNGED?
In addition to the requirements stated above, some offenses do not allow for expungement. Violent felonies cannot be expunged under most circumstances. You may qualify for an expungement for a felony conviction if the charge was non-violent and you received a pardon.
All charges ineligible for expungement will forever appear on your record. Traffic offenses are not eligible for expungement; however, they are automatically removed from your driving record after three (3) years.
Evidence of the commission or conviction of a former offense can be used as credibility or impeachment evidence in a later case.
Fingerprint cards collected by law enforcement are not eligible for expungement or destruction, as Oklahoma criminal expungement laws do not allow for the destruction of any type of evidence. OSBI may maintain this type of evidence; however, it will not be accessible to the public.
Experienced Expungement Lawyer in Oklahoma
Contact Cannon & Associates Law Firm in Edmond for your expungement. Our attorneys are Fierce Advocates for every client and will use our experience and respected reputation to do everything possible to reach the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact Cannon & Associates now if you are interested in an expungement in Oklahoma. Cannon & Associates has an outstanding record of reaching the best possible outcome for hundreds of clients evidenced by John receiving the highest possible AVVO rating – 10 (superb) and being identified as a Super Lawyer. Call our office at (405) 657-2323 or Fill out the Form on this PAGE NOW for a free confidential case evaluation.
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