If you have a criminal record in Oklahoma, you know firsthand the difficulty your record can cause. It may be hard to find a job. You may be turned down for a loan. You may be denied entrance into certain schools or training facilities. You may even be treated with suspicion by nosy individuals who come across your record.
It may help you to know that help is available in clearing your criminal record. Expungement can bring relief from your arrest record or your criminal conviction by sealing court records or your arrest record on file with the OSBI.
There are two different types of record expungement in Oklahoma, and you may qualify for one or both types. Under 22 O.S. § 991c, people who are given a deferred sentence may have their records expunged after successful completion of probation. Learn more about deferred sentence expungement.
While a §991c expungement can offer some relief by allowing a person to avoid conviction and by striking his or her name from court records, it does not fully eliminate one’s record. The arrest record remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations and may still show up in certain background checks. While it such a search will not show conviction of the crime, evidence of an arrest can be enough to cost an applicant a job in favor of an applicant with a clean record.
Fortunately, a “full expungement” is available under 22 O.S. § 18. A Section 18 expungement is preferable to a deferred sentence expungement because it affects the full record on file with the OSBI. It allows a person who was convicted of a crime to state on a job application or other form that he or she has never been convicted of a crime.
Not everyone will qualify for a §18 expungement, but recent changes to the law have expanded opportunities for expungement. If you have tried unsuccessfully to have your record expunged in the past, you may now qualify under the new changes to Oklahoma expungement law.
In the 2014 legislative session, the Oklahoma legislature enacted several amendments to existing expungement law. The changes, effective November 1, 2014, allow certain individuals to petition for expungement, even if they may not have qualified under previous versions of the law. Misdemeanors and even non-violent felonies may be expunged if the petitioner meets one or more of the following criteria:
While an expungement does seal a criminal record, it is important to note that records expunged under item 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 are sealed to the public, but not to law enforcement. These records are available for subsequent prosecution without the requirement of a court order to unseal records.
The procedure for a full record expungement is explained in 22 O.S. § 19, but your expungement lawyer will handle the details for you. For most people, the most important aspects of §19 are the descriptions of how a sealed record can restore your privacy and eliminate documentation of past mistakes:
“Upon the entry of an order to seal the records, or any part thereof, the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all criminal justice agencies may properly reply, upon any inquiry in the matter, that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists with respect to such person.”
In other words, if you are asked on any application if you have been convicted of a crime, after a Section 18 expungement, you may lawfully state that you have not. You are not required to disclose any information contained in sealed documents.
If you are tired of constantly being hampered by your criminal record, contact Coventon Criminal Defense to find out if you qualify for record expungement. We can help you make a clean start. Call to learn more.