Changes to Expungement Law Effective November 1, 201215-Nov-2012
UPDATE - November 1st, 2014:
Click here for more information on the new expungement laws.
A youthful indiscretion or a lapse in judgement can have lasting implications for Oklahomans convicted of misdemeanor and felony offenses. A criminal record can create problems in student status and educational opportunities, finding and maintaining employment, obtaining housing or a financial loan, or other situations in which a criminal background check is required. Fortunately, the state of Oklahoma offers post-conviction relief through the expungement of a criminal record for certain offenses. An expungement removes a defendant's record of conviction or arrest, allowing an individual who has paid his or her debt to make a fresh start, unfettered by a criminal record and its stigma.
Oklahoma statutes define two separate types of expungement. A Section 991(c) expungement allows a person who has completed a deferred sentence to have his or her plea changed from "guilty" to "not guilty" and the record updated to show that the case has been dismissed. In this situation, the conviction is expunged, but the person's arrest record with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) remains in place. For many Oklahomans, a Section 18/19 expungement is preferable, as it clears the arrest record; however, a Section 18 expungement is more difficult to obtain.
For either type of expungement, certain criteria must be met in order for the record of arrest or conviction to be cleared. House Bill 3091, which took effect November 1, changed the Section 18/19 requirements, which provided eligibility for some individuals who did not previously qualify, and which made other previously qualifying individuals ineligible for this type of expungement. The new expungement legislation also allows some expunged records to be used in court proceedings without a court order to unseal these records.
According to the state's Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training 2012 Legislative Update, HB 3091 entails the following changes:
HB 3091 (effective November 1, 2012) amends 10A O.S. § 2-5-210 to allow access to expunged records of youthful offenders by ‘judiciary, district attorneys, the youthful offender, employees of juvenile bureaus and the Office of Juvenile Affairs’ and DOC in certain circumstances.
The bill also amends 22 O.S. § 18 to affect adult expungements:
- Changes the ‘one year after arrest with no charges filed’ basis for expungement to ‘the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges’.
- Adds the situation in which all charges have been dismissed, and the applicant has no felony convictions, and no pending charges,and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that charges will not be re-filed.
- Adds the situation in which a misdemeanor was deferred and then dismissed, and the applicant has not been convicted of any other charges, and has no charges pending, and at least 2 years have passed since dismissal.
- Adds the situation in which a nonviolent felony has been deferred and dismissed, with no other convictions or charges pending, and at least 10 years have passed since dismissal.
- Provides that these expunged records are admissible in subsequent criminal prosecutions to ‘prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment’ without a court order to unseal the records.
If you have questions about the possibility of clearing your record, it is important to contact an Oklahoma expungement attorney who can help you understand your eligibility and can handle the legal process necessary to allow you to move forward. Though hiring an attorney is not a legal requirement in pursuing an expungement, even the OSBI recommends hiring a lawyer for the optimal outcome. For more information, contact attorney Adam Banner at 405-778-4800.
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