Many people are surprised to find out that even if charges against them have been dismissed, the arrest and charge remain on their records. This is even true of an arrest after which no charges were ultimately filed. Even thought the records will reflect that the charge has been dismissed and that there is no criminal conviction, the mere association with an arrest or criminal charge can complicate things when it shows up in a background check.
So can you get the arrest or dismissed charge removed from your record? In most cases, yes.
There are a couple of different ways to have a dismissed charge expunged. First, let us look at the expungement of a charge that was dismissed following the completion of a deferred sentence.
Sometimes, often for a first offense or a minor crime, a judge will allow a defendant to plead guilty, but will delay judgement and sentencing, allowing a defendant to serve probation instead of jail time. This is typically called a deferred sentence. If the defendant successfully completes his or her probation and stays out of trouble, the judge will dismiss the charge at the end of probation. Under 22 O.S. § 991c, the court records will then be updated to reflect a "not guilty" plea rather than a guilty plea, and the defendant's name will be redacted from court records. This process is not necessarily automatic. If you have had a charge dismissed after probation, contact your lawyer to make sure the court records have been expunged or to find out how to get the record sealed.
The expungement of a deferred sentence under § 991c does not affect the arrest record on file with the OSBI, however. In some cases, an arrest or dismissed charge can be completely expunged under the terms of 22 O.S. §18/19. Under this section, certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for full record expungement. Those conditions involving dismissed charges or arrests without subsequent charges follow:
- The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the district attorney subsequently dismissed the charge;
- The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested, are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;
- The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence;
- 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 one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;
- The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, 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 ten (10) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
- The person has been charged or arrested or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used the person's name or other identification without the person's consent or authorization.
Note that under these terms, expungement following a deferred sentence under § 991c and full expungement under §18/19 are not mutually exclusive. Contact your attorney or call (405) 778-4800 to find out how to get your arrest or dismissed charge expunged from your record.