Street Law School: Getting A Criminal Record Expunged Is Getting Easier

An expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or Federal repositories. If successful, the records are said to be “expunged”. While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged.

A very real distinction exists between an expungement and a pardon. When an expungement is granted, the person whose record is expunged may, for most purposes, treat the event as if it never occurred. A pardon does not “erase” the event; rather, it constitutes forgiveness. An expungement can be granted only by a judge; while a pardon can be granted only by the President for federal offenses, and the Governor or the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for state offenses.

Generally, expungement is the process to “remove from general review” the records pertaining to a case. The records may not completely “disappear” and may still be available to law enforcement, to sentencing judges on subsequent offenses, and to corrections facilities to which the individual may be sentenced on subsequent convictions. In 2012, and again in late 2014, Oklahoma significantly amended its expungement laws. Persons who did not previously qualify for expungement under the old laws are now eligible.  Records that can negatively impact careers, educational goals, and personal lives, and that are currently freely accessible to the general public on the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s website and the On Demand Court Records website, can now be more easily hidden, including records with the Courts on OSCN.net or ODCR.com (Docket Sheet of the case), and records with OSBI, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Anyone’s criminal history is available through the Criminal History Reporting Unit of the OSBI using this form. This OSBI criminal history is the “background check” paid for by employers.

What’s New:

22 Oklahoma Stat. §18/19 Expungement: This erases records from the Arresting Agency, the Court, OSBI, and potentially third party records, and is generally the type of expungement sought. A record erased through an 18/19 expungement is not visible to the public or employers, and cannot be used by law enforcement without a Court order. Eligibility for expungement will usually be on the following grounds:

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 misdemeanor or felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;

The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, as set forth 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 misdemeanor or felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;

The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person has not been convicted a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the end of the last misdemeanor sentence.

Other Types of Expungements:

22 Oklahoma Stat. §991c Expungement: If a person does not qualify for an 18/19 expungement, they may be able to get a partial expungement under 22 Oklahoma Stat. §991c. After a 991c expungement Court records at ODCR.com and OSCN.net are erased, the Court file is sealed, and OSBI arrest records are changed show a plea of “not guilty,” and that the case was dismissed. You can get a 991c expungement while you are waiting to be eligible for an 18/19 expungement.

22 Oklahoma Stat. §60.18 Victim’s Protection Order (VPO) Expungement: A VPO or restraining order, once expunged, is sealed to the public, and “shall be deemed never to have occurred.” If ever asked, a person “may properly reply … that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists.” (22 Oklahoma Stat. §60.1 (C)(4))

10A Oklahoma Stat. §2-6-109 Juvenile Records Expungement: Juvenile records already can’t be viewed by the general public. But, a juvenile record expungement may be needed in order to enlist in the military. Once expunged, it “shall be deemed never to have occurred.” If ever asked, a person “may properly reply … that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists.” (10A Oklahoma Stat. §2-6-109(D))

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One response to “Street Law School: Getting A Criminal Record Expunged Is Getting Easier”

  1. I was interviewed and this blawg post was cited in the Urban Tulsa Magazine: http://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A55086

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