Under Oklahoma law, there are ways to get both misdemeanors and felonies expunged from a criminal record. However, you must qualify for record expungement under 22 O.S. § 18 or § 991c. Expungement eligibility is not exclusive to either § 18 or § 991c, so it is important to understand how each type of expungement works and how these laws pertain to felony expungement.
Let us first take a look at a Section 991c expungement, which is the expungement of a deferred sentence.
A deferred sentence occurs when a person pleads guilty to a crime, but the judge defers, or delays, accepting the plea and finding the defendant guilty. In some states, this is called "probation before judgment," and it allows a person to serve probation instead of jail or prison time. If the person completes the probation without violation, then the judge dismisses the case. This is important because a deferred sentence, if completed successfully, does not end in criminal conviction. Keep in mind that a deferred sentence is different from a suspended sentence in that a suspended sentence is the result of a conviction. A suspended sentence allows a person convicted of a crime to serve probation instead of jail or prison for part or all of the sentence. However, this person will have a criminal conviction on his or her record that is not eligible for expungement under Section 991c.
So how is a deferred felony sentence expunged? If the person successfully completes probation, and the case is dismissed, his or her court records will be sealed. This process may not be automatic, however, and in some cases, the defendant will be required to appear before the judge at the conclusion of the probation in order to begin the expungement process. For this reason, it is helpful to have an expungement lawyer who is familiar with the District Courts in Oklahoma to know what will be required to get your record sealed.
Now, a deferred record expungement is helpful, and it is often a first step toward full expungement. For most people, though, it is not the ultimate resolution, as it simply seals the court record, but still leaves the arrest record in place. A full record expungement is detailed in Section 18/19, and it lists specific eligibility requirements to have both the court records and the arrest records sealed. Section 18 lists 12 specific circumstances which allow a person to be eligible to petition for expungement. The eligibility requirements related to expungement of a felony conviction (aside from the establishment of actual innocence) follow:
9. 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;
11. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not listed 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 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;
Only nonviolent felonies may be expunged from one's criminal record. Click here to read the full list of violent felonies which may not be expunged.
If you think you might be eligible to have your felony record sealed, call Oklahoma expungement lawyer Adam R. Banner at (405) 778-4800 for more information.