Few, if any, of us reach adulthood without any regrets for something we did in our youth. For some of us, those youthful mistakes were minor; we can make amends and move forward without any long term ill effects: maybe we should have tried harder in school, been nicer to our classmates, or treated our parents with more respect.
For others, the faults were more serious, and the ramifications may be long-lasting. A criminal record can make it difficult to move beyond those mistakes. In many cases, a juvenile record is sealed, and a person who has a record for shoplifting, underage drinking, or other minor crime can live a life unencumbered by the burdens of the past. However, it is a misconception that all juvenile records are sealed, and there are many who must obtain an expungement of the juvenile record to erase record of juvenile crimes.
Record expungement is not automatic. It is a legal process that requires a petition to the court and which may be contested by the district attorney or the OSBI. But do you qualify for record expungement? If so, which type?
Record of adult arrests, charges, and convictions may be expunged under guidelines enumerated in 22 O.S. §991(c) or 22 O.S. §18/19. Section 991(c) provides for the sealing of court records after a defendant’s successful completion of a deferred sentence. Section 18 allows arrest records, charging records, and certain misdemeanor and nonviolent felony convictions to be expunged under narrowly defined circumstances.
Of the above types of expungement, a §18 expungement is preferable, as it seals the arrest record, unlike a §991(c) expungement, which updates the court record to reflect a plea of not guilty and a dismissal of the case. For this reason, a §18 expungement is often referred to as a “full expungement.”
But both §991(c) and §18/19 pertain to adult records. What about the expungement of juvenile records that aren’t sealed?
Generally speaking, juvenile records are confidential. However, there are exceptions:
Typically, a court order would be necessary to release the records, but there are certain circumstances under which the record may be made available without a court order. For example, school districts in which a person is enrolled can access limited juvenile records without a court order, and the district attorney, the juvenile’s attorney, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, and the Department of Corrections can access sealed juvenile records without a court order.
Collateral consequences of a juvenile record or youthful offender record may include school suspension, being barred from admission to certain colleges and universities, restrictions on financial aid and student loans, and limited employment opportunities. In general, being adjudicated delinquent—which is not considered a conviction—will not have much impact beyond suspension from a school in which a minor is currently enrolled; however, if the person was convicted as a youthful offender or as an adult, the record may be publicly available.
Title 10A O.S. §2-6-109 allows the subject of a juvenile record to petition the court to expunge all or part of the record:
A. A person who is the subject of a juvenile court record, that is not confidential as provided by law, may petition the district court in which the juvenile court record is located for an order to expunge all or any part of the record pertaining to the person, except basic identification information; provided:
1. The person has attained twenty-one (21) years of age or older;
2. The person has not been arrested for any adult criminal offense and no charge, indictment, or information has been filed or is pending against the person at the time of the petition for an expungement;
3. The person has not been subject to any deferred prosecution or deferred sentence, and has not been convicted of any criminal offense; and
4. All court costs, restitution, fines and other court-ordered requirements have been completed for all juvenile proceedings.
The subsequent sections of the statute explain the expungement process and the results of a successful petition for expungement. Perhaps the most important part of the statute for those seeking relief from a juvenile record is the following statement:
D. Upon the entry of an order to expunge any juvenile court record, or any part thereof, the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all juvenile and 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 the person.
Many of us wish we could turn back time to erase the mistakes of our past, and Oklahoma’s juvenile record expungement laws allow some people to do just that. Whatever act generated the record is “deemed never to have occurred.” In the eyes of the law, it never happened, and the person who was once named in the criminal record can legally and “properly reply” that it “never occurred.”
To learn more about how you can free yourself from the burden of a criminal record, call (405) 417-3842 or click here for your free case review.