If your criminal record is keeping you from getting a good job, preventing you from securing a financial loan, making it difficult to sign a housing lease, or even just showing up in background checks by nosy neighbors, you want your record sealed as quickly as possible to put the past behind you. In some cases, it may not even be a conviction that is holding you back. Your case may have been dismissed on its merits, yet your arrest record still remains, casting suspicion upon you even though you were never convicted of a crime.
Securing an Expungement in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, people meeting certain criteria are able to have their records expunged. A partial expungement (Section 991c) which seals the court record may be available for people who successfully complete a deferred sentence. A full expungement of the court record and OSBI arrest record (Section 18) may be available to people who meet strictly specified criteria.
Oklahoma law does not mandate that anyone petitioning for expungement hire an attorney to represent him or her. However, failing to do so can jeopardize your chances of successfully getting your record sealed.
Reasons to Hire an Experienced Lawyer
Following are four reasons you need an attorney to handle the expungement of your criminal record:
- When you want something done right, you hire a professional. Sure, you could attempt to petition the court to seal your records. But do you know how? Do you know how to write the petition or where to file it? Do you know the relevant law to support your petition? Are you even sure you are requesting the right kind of expungement? For you, filing a petition for expungement is a new experience, and your clean slate lies in the balance. Instead of guessing your way through and hoping for the best, demand the best by hiring an attorney who knows what he is doing.
- Petitioning for expungement is not simply a matter of filling out a form; it is a legal proceeding. In addition to filing the petition for expungement, you must also be present for a hearing. When appearing before the judge and when being confronted by a district attorney, you need someone in your corner who can respond to legal challenges they present and who can meet them on an even playing field.
- Even the OSBI recommends that you hire an attorney. When your nemesis knows you stand the best chance of success with a lawyer, you know it is serious. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has the right to challenge your expungement if it believes that the public's right to know about your criminal record is more important than your privacy. If the OSBI makes a policy argument, are you equipped to defend yourself against the challenge? Your attorney is.
- You cannot afford not to hire an attorney. The only reason most people consider petitioning for expungement without a lawyer is to try to save some money on attorney fees. However, hiring a qualified attorney is more affordable than you might think. Additionally, petitioning by yourself is not free. You still have to pay certain filing fees and court costs and must even pay a fee to have your record sealed. An attorney can inform you upfront of all the fees so you are not surprised by any hidden costs. Additionally, by removing your criminal history from employment background checks, you may be able to find a better job and quickly earn back the money you spent hiring a lawyer to handle your expungement.
To find out more about expungement eligibility, processes, and costs, visit https://www.oklahomaLegalGroup.com or call 405-778-4800 to schedule your free consultation.