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How Can I Clear My Record?

Ryan Coventon - Monday, August 07, 2017

If you have a criminal record, you know first-hand how much something you did in the past can affect your present life and even your future. Even a misdemeanor conviction for a youthful mistake can make it difficult to get a job, secure a financial loan, gain admission to college, or find housing. Reading the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" on an employment application can make your heart sink, knowing that when all else is equal, your prospective employer is more likely to hire the person who can check "NO."

Fortunately, Oklahoma law provides a way for you to clear your record. In fact, it provides two ways, each with differing eligibility criteria and varying degrees of thoroughness.

The first way to get a record expunged in Oklahoma is for men and women who have been given a deferred sentence after pleading guilty to an offense. This is sometimes called a Section 991c expungement after the statute that describes it: 22 O.S. 991(c).

A deferred sentence occurs when a person pleads guilty to a charge, but the judge delays judgment and sentencing rather than accepting the guilty plea. The defendant is ordered to serve probation instead of being convicted and sent to jail or prison. If the defendant successfully completes probation without violating its terms or committing other criminal offenses, the guilty or no contest plea is expunged from the court record, and the case is dismissed.

According to Section 991(c), the procedure to expunge the deferred sentence follows:

1. All references to the name of the defendant shall be deleted from the docket sheet;

2. The public index of the filing of the charge shall be expunged by deletion, mark-out or obliteration;

3. Upon expungement, the court clerk shall keep a separate confidential index of case numbers and names of defendants which have been obliterated pursuant to the provisions of this section;

4. No information concerning the confidential file shall be revealed or released, except upon written order of a judge of the district court or upon written request by the named defendant to the court clerk for the purpose of updating the criminal history record of the defendant with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation; and

5. Defendants qualifying under Section 18 of this title may petition the court to have the filing of the indictment and the dismissal expunged from the public index and docket sheet. This section shall not be mutually exclusive of Section 18 of this title.

"Section 18" refers to the other type of expungement available in Oklahoma. This is sometimes called a Section 18 or a full expungement, because it clears even the arrest record from the OSBI background check, rather than simply striking one's deferred sentence from the court record. While a Section 18 expungement is more thorough in erasing the criminal record, it is also more difficult to obtain.

According to 22 O.S. 18, only the following people are eligible for full record expungement:

1. The person has been acquitted;

2. The 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;

3. The factual innocence of the person was established by the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence subsequent to conviction, including a person who has been released from prison at the time innocence was established;

4. The person has received a full pardon on the basis of a written finding by the Governor of actual innocence for the crime for which the claimant was sentenced;

5. The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested, are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;

6. The person was under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the offense was committed and the person has received a full pardon for the offense;

7. The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that 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;

8. The person was charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;

9. The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;

10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a fine of less than Five Hundred One Dollars ($501.00) without a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence, the fine has been paid or satisfied by time served in lieu of the fine, the person has not been convicted of a felony, and no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person;

11. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a suspended sentence or a fine in an amount greater than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), the person has not been convicted of a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the end of the last misdemeanor sentence;

12. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other felony, the person has not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last fifteen (15) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the felony conviction;

13. The person was convicted of not more than two nonviolent felony offenses, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for both of the nonviolent felony offenses, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least twenty (20) years have passed since the last misdemeanor or felony conviction; or

14. The person has been charged or arrested or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used the person's name or other identification without the person's consent or authorization.

If you believe you may be entitled to expungement of your criminal record under Oklahoma law, contact a criminal defense lawyer who can help you clear your record. Call attorney Ryan Coventon at (405) 417-3842.

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