A full expungement in Oklahoma - be it a criminal expungement or a misdemeanor - is also called a Section 18/19 expungement. An expungements allow you to seal your court record or arrest record - preventing the public from having access to the information.
In Oklahoma, a full expungement seals your court or arrest record and essentially clears your criminal record. Expunging a criminal record means to remove it from public view. That means no one from the public can see or find out about your expunged criminal record (unless you give them permission).
Who is eligible for an expungement?
The most common and easiest way in which someone will become eligible for a legal expungement is if they received a misdemeanor deferred sentence in their criminal court case. In this instance, the defendant becomes eligible for a full expungement just one year from the date the deferred sentence ends.
On November 1, 2016, new changes in the law opened the door to an expungement for a group of people. Under the new law, felony deferred sentences become eligible five years after the end of the deferral period (rather than ten years, as it was before the law).
Even a sentence and a conviction have the possibility of receiving a full expungement in Oklahoma - which is one of the reasons why Oklahoma has some of the most favorable expungement laws in the country. Under the new law, if you receive a misdemeanor conviction, you become eligible for a full expungement five years (rather than ten years) from the end of your sentence. Additionally, the changes in policy allow misdeameanor tickets to be expunged immediately (rather than 10 years later) if the fine is under $501.
However, you are not eligible if you have a felony conviction on your record as well, at least until/if you are able to get that expunged. A fairly recent development in the law allows for multiple misdemeanor convictions to become eligible for expungement. To learn more about the recent changes in the law, download our guide on the new Oklahoma expungement law.
Are Felony Expungements Possible?
Can you get a felony expunged? It depends. Felony convictions can also be expunged in certain circumstances, but violent felonies will never be eligible unless the law changes. What constitutes a violent felony is found in the Oklahoma Statute at Title 57, Section 571. Also, if you have multiple felony convictions you are not eligible for the expungement process, but statutory developments could soon change this. First and foremost, a defendant has to receive a pardon before becoming eligible to expunge a felony conviction. Pardons are a completely separate issue from expungements.
It is important to note that expungement law can be fairly tricky, with many exceptions. Sometimes when expunging multiple cases (DUI, juvenile arrest, various charges) it is similar to a putting together a puzzle in order to get the desired results. This is why hiring an experienced Oklahoma expungement lawyer is important. Expungement lawyers really have to get creative and think outside the box to be able to be successful when they have more than one petition for expungement and the cases are not cut-and-dry. You could be eligible for a partial expungement as well.
How Do You Request an Expungement?
To initiate an expungement in Oklahoma you must file a civil petition in the county where the offense occurred. The filing fee currently costs $146.66, however, an experienced Oklahoma expungement attorney can sometimes skirt this requirement in certain counties, saving the client money.
The Expungement Petition
After the Petition for Expungement is filed, a hearing must be set before the assigned judge. Then the Petition must be mailed to and notice of this hearing must be provided to all interested parties (i.e. the agency holding the arrest records, Oklahoma felony records, OSCN, OSBI, the Oklahoma criminal records, court records holders, etc.). The best practice is then to discuss the expungement with the interested parties and get them to agree to a proposed Expungement Order prior to the hearing. Normally this is not an issue if the person is eligible for the relief sought, but you must know who it is to discuss this with.
The Expungement Hearing
At the hearing, barring any objections, the Judge will sign the Expungement Order. Then the Order must be filed and the expungement process is finalized by providing certified copies of the Order to the interested parties. Along with a certified copy of the Expungement Order, OSBI requires a $150 expungement processing fee. There is no way around paying this fee. One of the only other governmental authorities who require a processing fee is The City of Oklahoma City - so if the arresting agency was the Oklahoma City Police Department, the expungement process will cost you an additional $150 (Forest Park also requires a processing fee).
What Are The Benefits of an Expungement?
Once the full expungement is finalized, you can legally and honestly deny that the expunged incident ever occurred.
The benefits of a full expungement and sealing criminal records when job seeking are great, and they also extend to people seeking admittance to higher education, licensing, housing, gun rights, etc. Once you have received a full expungement, it is like it never even happened: it won't show up in any background check. Anyone that is eligible for a full expungement should take advantage of this rare opportunity to invest in their future by erasing their past.