Having a criminal record--even for a minor offense--can make it difficult to find a job, get a loan, or secure a rental agreement for a place to live. When a past record is complicating someone's present life, one of the first things they want to know is how to clear that record.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misconception about how things work, and sometimes, the question people ask is not, "How do I clear my record," but rather, "How long before this offense drops off my record?"
Your police record is not like your DMV driving record. When you get a ticket for a traffic violation, that goes against your license. However, if you drive a specified length of time without further infractions, the points are removed from your record.
Many people think that the same thing happens with their criminal record--that if they have an assault charge from a college bar fight, for example, that just falls off of their record after a couple of years of "good behavior."
That's not how clearing a record works.
Clearing your record is called "expungement," and in Oklahoma, there are two ways to go about this process. Neither of them are automatic, and you need to talk to an expungement lawyer to make sure you go about the process correctly. In some cases, the OSBI or the District Attorney may challenge your expungement, and it is especially important to make sure you have legal representation to fight the challenge.
The first type of Oklahoma expungement, a deferred sentence expungement, is the most common, but not the most comprehensive. If you were given a deferred sentence for a crime, the judge allowed you to complete probation instead of sentencing you right away. If you did everything you were supposed to and nothing you weren't during probation, then your court record is updated to reflect a plea of not guilty, and your case is dismissed. In other words, you were never convicted of that crime.
But you still have an arrest record on file with the OSBI, and that is where a full record expungement can be helpful. For an expungement of your record under 22 O.S. 18/19, there are several criteria which must be met. Some of these do require the passage of a specified period of time without further convictions or pending cases. This may be where the confusion comes in for some people. However, even if five or ten or however many years have passed without further legal run-ins, the process of expungement is not automatic. The arrests and convictions do not simply "fall off" the record. You must meet the requirements specified here, and petition the court to have your record sealed.
To learn more or to get help clearing your record, call attorney Adam Banner at (405) 778-4800 or submit the case review request form here.