If you have an arrest record or a criminal record, you know firsthand the problems that record can bring. You may be passed over for jobs, you may have difficulty securing a loan or housing rental, or you may simply be embarrassed by a past mistake and wish to erase the record of that mistake. One of the most frequently asked questions by people who want their past mistakes expunged is, "How long to I have to wait to clear my record?"
There is no single answer to that question, as it may depend on the type of expungement you are seeking or the conditions of your arrest or conviction. However, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you can have your record expunged.
There are two types of expungement in Oklahoma. The first is the expungement of court records following the successful completion of a deferred sentence. The process and procedure for a deferred sentence expungement is detailed in state law in Title 22 Section 991c of the Oklahoma Statutes. In order to receive a deferred sentence, a defendant pleads guilty to the offense, but the judge defers, or delays, sentencing, giving the defendant time to complete probation instead of jail or prison before rendering judgment. If the person successfully complies with all of the terms of his or her probation, at the end of the probationary period, the judge renders a judgment of not guilty and dismisses the case. The court records are updated to reflect a not guilty plea and dismissal of the case, rather than a conviction. The defendant's name is stricken from court records. There is no waiting period for this type of expungement; as soon as the probation is complete, the defendant is eligible for record expungement. However, a Section 991c expungement only applies to court records, and the person's arrest record remains on file with the OSBI.
Under Title 22 Section 18 of the Oklahoma Statutes, state law describes the various eligibility requirements for a full expungement, which applies to the OSBI record as well as court records. Most of these qualifiers do not require that any specific time has passed since the incident in question:
- an acquittal
- a conviction is reversed on appeal and dismissed through appellate court instructions or through a district attorney's decision to dismiss the case
- factual evidence of innocence
- a full pardon on the basis of actual innocence
- an arrest that did not lead to charges being filed
- a juvenile offense which has been pardoned
- a person was charged with a crime but all charges were dismissed, there are no pending charges or subsequent convictions, and the district attorney will not refile charges
- a person's arrest or charge is the result of mistaken identity through identity theft
There are some situations in which a prescribed period of time must pass without any additional run-ins with the law:
- 2 years have passed since a person completed a deferred sentence for a misdemeanor
- 10 years have passed since a person completed a deferred sentence for a nonviolent felony
- 10 years have passed since a person was convicted of a misdemeanor
- 10 years have passed since a person was convicted of a nonviolent felony, and he or she has received a full pardon
In all of the above cases, there must be no subsequent convictions or pending charges in the interim. Violent felonies are not eligible for expungement.