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Expunging a Criminal Record

Many of the individuals who find themselves convicted of a crime in Oklahoma are generally not bad people. That is why the Oklahoma Legislature has put into place certain procedures to allow individuals previously convicted of a violation of the Oklahoma Statutes the ability to move past the conviction. Retaining an expungement attorney can help assist in this situation. Not every criminal defense attorney handles this procedure, so it is integral that you consult with someone who has a vast background in law and litigation. The laws on record expungements commonly change from year to year, so make sure that you hire someone with a complete understanding of the process.

What is an Expungement?

Expunging your record is the process a Defendant must endure in order to get the record of a criminal conviction or arrest removed by Court Order. Depending on the type, there are many regulations and rules that must be followed. Moreover, there are multiple governmental agencies that must be contacted and put on notice. Those agencies ultimately will agree or object, in which case a contested hearing may have to be held in order to complete the process. Once the expungement is complete, the record is deemed not to exist and the Defendant may deny the existence of the court records for most intents and purposes.

Are there different types of expungements?

Yes.

A Section 18 expungement allows a person to expunge their entire arrest record. This what most people have in mind when they think about clearing their respective record. It will wipe the arrest and the criminal disposition clean from your OSBI record, and it will also order the removal of any information related to the criminal charge, and the expungement lawsuit itself, from the internet. 

A Section 991(c) expungement allows a person who received a deferred sentence to expunge their plea, and have the disposition of their case updated to show the case has been dismissed. The disposition will say, "pled not guilty, case dismissed". However, a 991(c) expungement will not expunge (remove) the arrest record.

These two types are not mutually exclusive. That is to say, a person can petition for both a 991(c) when he or she becomes eligible and then petition from a Section 18 when he or she becomes eligible for that relief as well.

What is the difference between an expungement and a pardon?

These two terms are not the same. Expunging your record clears you of having a criminal record to one degree or another depending on the particular type that you qualify for. A pardon does not clear your record. To the contrary, a pardon only returns some of your civil rights that may have been taken from you once convicted of a felony. Please see our page on Oklahoma pardons for more information.

How do I get an arrest expunged?

In order to have an arrest and criminal record expunged you must petition the District Court in the District the arrest was made. In most cases, you have to file an actual civil lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma requesting that your arrest record, and all other records related to the case, be expunged from public access. This is an intricate process with many potential pitfalls. Once the lawsuit is filed, there is quite a bit of legal "red tape" that must be properly navigated in order to achieve a successful result. Consequently, you will be well advised to hire an Oklahoma expungement attorney to assist you in filing your lawsuit.

Do I need a lawyer?

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) generally stresses that you hire a lawyer. However, the language describing the method of obtaining an expungement is in Title 22 Section 18, and Title 22 991(c) of the Oklahoma Statutes. As such, it is possible to try and attempt the process on your own, but why take the risk? Moreover, Oklahoma laws changed in November of 2012, November of 2014, and new Oklahoma criminal expungement laws were again added and modified in November of 2016.

If that were not enough change to keep up with, new expungement laws were again emplemented in November of 2018. The newest batch of modifications to Section 18 expungements have some interesting interplay with potential pardon ramifications. Consequently, you are advised to tread carefully if you intend to embark on this complicated legal procedure unguided.

But with so much fluctuation in the laws, why would you not hire someone who regularly handles these procedures and has the legal knowledge to adequately assist you? The laws are constantly changing, and it is important that you do not waist valuable time and money when you need to get something removed from your record. A petition for expungement should be viewed the same as any other legal proceeding: if you are going to appear in court or initiate a lawsuit, you should hire counsel that can protect your interests and make sure that you get the exact relief you are requesting. 

Does it matter that the arrest occurred more than 10-20-30 years ago?

No.

The only requirement is that you meet the qualifications statutes before an expungement can be granted. To be fair, time periods can come into play depending on when the conviction or arrest actually occurred. Depending on what you are trying to expunge, and how much time has passed since the record was created, you may or may not meet the qualifications of the statutes. This is another reason why it is so important to consult with, and hire, an experienced felony expungement attorney.

Do I automatically get an expungement if I qualify under the statutes?

No.

Many people feel that their criminal convictions or arrest records should simply disappear from their records after some period of time. Sadly, this is not the case. Even if a petition is filed, there are some very rare occasions in which either the arresting agency, the District Attorney's office, or OSBI may object to the expunging of certain court records.

The OSBI will object to an petition if it feels that the public interest in retaining the record outweighs the adverse consequences of keeping the record. Even if a person qualifies, both OSBI and the District Attorney's office can object on policy grounds.

Hiring an Expungement Attorney in Oklahoma

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, you may be eligible to have the criminal record of your conviction expunged. You need an Oklahoma expungement law firm, and you need one right now. Call the Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C., and retain an accomplished attorney ready to fight for your rights. Call us today at (405) 778-4800 for a free consultation.

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