An expungement is the process of getting a criminal record sealed from public view or getting the full arrest record and crime purged from one's criminal history. Not everyone is eligible for record expungement in Oklahoma; however, there are specific criteria which, if met, allow a person to get his or her record cleared. On November 1, 2012, the expungement laws in Oklahoma changed slightly. During the 2014 legislative session, a new bill was passed that will have even more changes take place on November 1 of this year.
Senate Bill 2140 was passed in May. This bill modifies the existing Oklahoma expungement laws, and in doing so, makes it easier for certain individuals to clear their criminal record through expungement.
The criteria for full record expungement are outlined in 22 O.S. 18. Amendments to the law reduce the waiting time for misdemeanor expungement and allow those who have been convicted of multiple misdemeanors to have a misdemeanor expunged.
Specifically, SB 2140 makes the following changes:
- Previously, a person whose misdemeanor charge was dismissed following successful completion of a deferred sentence had to wait two years before getting his or her record expunged. That waiting period is reduced to one year.
- A person who was convicted of a misdemeanor could get an expungement if he or she had not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony, had no pending charges, and 10 years had passed since the conviction. SB 2140 removes other misdemeanor convictions as a qualifier and changes the time period from 10 years following the conviction to 10 years following the end of the last misdemeanor sentence.
- As in the case of misdemeanor convictions, the law removes misdemeanors from disqualifying a person convicted of a non-violent felony from expungement eligibility. Instead of saying that the person could not be convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony, the new law reads that the person qualifies for expungement if "the person has not been convicted of any other felony, the person has not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last fifteen (15) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the felony conviction."
Misdemeanor convictions, on their own, will no longer preclude a person from obtaining relief through record expungement.
Another feature of the amendments that will take effect on November 1 is the ability to seal records with the Pardon and Parole Board. According to the new law, "Records expunged pursuant to paragraph 4, 6 or 11 of subsection A of this section may also include the sealing of Pardon and Parole Board records related to an application for a pardon. Such records shall be sealed to the public but not to the Pardon and Parole Board."
Remember, these changes do not take effect until November 1. If you are considering record expungement to clear or seal your criminal history, contact an experienced expungement lawyer to determine whether you can petition for expungement now or if you must until November to qualify.