Having a criminal record in an Oklahoma county, especially after you have turned your life around and repaid your debt to society, can seriously hinder your continued progress in life. Criminal records follow people around, causing them multiple setbacks, including issues in areas such as employment, housing, and education. With more entities making use of public background checks and criminal records checks, it has become increasingly important for many with a prior criminal history to seek full expungement of their record.
Pro: An Open Job Search
Rather than seeking a job without criminal background checks, or settling for specific jobs for people with criminal records, your first option should be to contact a lawyer for information regarding your options, as well as researching expungement attorney costs. The pardon and expungement process may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on your situation and the attorney you hire. Most of the jobs available "without background checks" have a lower salary ($15,000 - $30,000), while jobs with a background check can range from $20,000 to $45,000+.
Pro: Voting Rights
Can you put a price on your right to choose who runs your government? We think not. According to Oklahoma law, "Persons convicted of a felony may not register to vote for a period of time equal to the time prescribed in the judgment and sentence." Getting an expungement will ensure your voting rights are restored and your record is clean as if it had never happened.
Pro: Further Your Education
Applying for colleges and other higher education institutions is a highly competitive process, especially for the most sought after careers and schools. A criminal record, however old, may disqualify you instantly or at least send you to the very bottom of the pile, reducing your chances of getting that coveted invitation.
An expungement not only erases a mistake from your past, it also opens a world of possibilities and potential for your future, especially in matters of education.
Pro: Gun Rights
Oklahoma loves guns, but the State is also very strict when it comes to gun rights - according to the law, anyone convicted of a felony may not possess, carry, or even ride in the same vehicle as “any pistol, imitation or homemade pistol, altered air or toy pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun or rifle, or any other dangerous or deadly firearm”. A full expungement will restore all gun rights in full, including the rights to carry a handgun, act as peace officer, hunt, or even repair guns.
Pro: Getting A Home & Other Financing
Securing a loan is a long and finicky process in which your employment history, bank statements and all sorts of background information are scrutinized by financial institutions who are understandably cautious regarding who they lend to. A felony or any sort of criminal record may be enough of a red flag for many banks and other financial institutions to decline lending you money for a mortgage or any other sort of financing.
With an expungement, you don't even have to mention that incident that used to be on your record - you can simply say you have no record, and be fully backed by the law in this regard.
Con: Pardons v. Expungements
CSL charges a flat fee for seeking pardons and felony criminal record expungements, and knowing the difference between the two options is important. Governor’s pardons (provisional pardons/full pardons) mean official "forgiveness" of your crime, but they do not seal criminal records, meaning the pardon will still be visible to any background check. A partial expungement will hide parts of your record. A full expungement will seal your criminal record, which means it can effectively erase your criminal record for life - provided you commit no additional crimes.
Con: Not Everything Can Be Expunged
Clearing your criminal record is important, but while all misdemeanors and certain felonies are eligible for expungement, there are crimes for which sealing court records is an impossibility: Murder, rape, sexual battery and/or imposition, corruption of and/or pornography involving a minor, and serious weapons charges are not eligible for expungement, regardless of the length of time since the offense was committed. There is no way to expunge being on a sex offender registry.
Contact CSL to both discuss expungement lawyer costs and the options afforded you concerning ways to clear your criminal record for life. If you qualify for expungement, the prospects of improved employment would more than justify the one time fee involved in getting your records sealed, and be exactly what’s required to ensure a more successful job hunt.