In approximately two weeks, the changes to Oklahoma's expungement laws enacted by the state legislature this spring will take effect. This means that on November 1, some people who may not have qualified for expungement of their criminal record before will now be able to have their records cleared.
Amendment to Oklahoma's Expungement Laws
The amendments to 22 O.S. § 18 come from the legislature's passing of Senate Bill 2140 during the 2014 legislative session. These changes reduce the waiting period for expungement of certain records and remove misdemeanor convictions as automatic disqualifiers for expungement of certain misdemeanor and non-violent felony records.
Title 22 Section 18 outlines 12 specific criteria for expungement eligibility. Several of these items are left unchanged by the amendments in SB 2140, but many have had restrictions eased:
8. The person was charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least two (2) years have one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;
10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction end of the last misdemeanor sentence;
11. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, as defined in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or 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 convictions
The new law also clarifies who can access records and when they can access them, including adding a provision about sealed records accessible to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board:
C. For purposes of seeking an expungement under the provisions of paragraph 10 or 11 of subsection A of this section, offenses arising out of the same transaction or occurrence shall be treated as one conviction and offense. D. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of subsection A of this section shall be sealed to the public but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11 of subsection A of this section shall be admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without the necessity of a court order requesting the unsealing of said the records. 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.
How to Secure an Expungement in Oklahoma
Sealing your criminal record makes moving forward with your life much easier. Just about everyone does a background check nowadays. This process has it's limitations. Most people still lose their right to carry firearms. But it can help return a sense of normalcy. To learn how these changes may affect your ability to clear your Oklahoma criminal record, contact an expungement attorney today.