You have served your time. Your probation is over, and your case is closed. You are looking forward to putting the past behind you and making a fresh start. Unfortunately, building a future for yourself may be more complicated than you imagined, as a criminal record plagues your opportunities, making it difficult to get an education, find a job, or even secure a financial loan. You want to move beyond youthful mistakes; you do not want to fall under constant suspicion because of an arrest record-which may not have even led to criminal charges. Still, you feel as if your reputation is permanently tarnished, as if you can't get a break.
Expungement Laws in Oklahoma
Luckily, you can move forward without being haunted by a criminal record. An Oklahoma expungement allows you to clear your record, removing your name from court document and sealing court records. Under current expungement laws, you may be able to erase the past, making it as if it never happened:
"Upon the entry of an order to seal the records, or any part thereof, the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all criminal justice agencies may properly reply, upon any inquiry in the matter, that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists with respect to such person." 22 O.S. § 19(d)
Why is it so important to be able to expunge a criminal record? Why would a person need to erase or seal the record of a juvenile crime, misdemeanor, or nonviolent felony?
The impact of a criminal record can last far beyond any criminal penalties, jail or prison time, and probation. An arrest record or conviction record can show up in background checks, jeopardizing multiple opportunities:
- Employment and Professional Licensing - Certain professional licenses and jobs-nursing and teaching, for example-are denied to convicted felons. Even if a misdemeanor conviction does not preclude you from a job, bias may choose an employer to hire an applicant with a clean record over an applicant with a criminal record, despite job qualifications.
- Education - A criminal record may affect your student status, your ability to gain admission into an educational institution, or your ability to secure financial aid to pay for your education.
- Housing - A criminal record may cause a rejection of your lease application or impact your ability to get a mortgage to buy a home.
- Loans - Many lenders see an arrest record or criminal record as an indication of your inability to meet the financial obligations of a loan. You may be denied a loan or offered a loan at prohibitive interest rates.
- Gun Rights - Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms, but certain misdemeanor convictions, including assault, domestic crimes, and alcohol related crimes such as DUI or public intoxication, can disqualify you from obtaining a gun license in Oklahoma.
- Adoption - If you wish to create or add to a family through adoption, your criminal record can jeopardize your chances of approval. Your record may cause you to be seen as unfit for parenthood, even if it is for a youthful indiscretion you have long outgrown.
- Volunteering - Many volunteer opportunities-including working in your child's school or attending field trips-require a criminal background check. Because of a past mistake, you may be unable to help in your child's classroom.
Hiring an Expungement Attorney
Under Oklahoma law, you may be eligible to have your misdemeanor or felony record expunged if you have successfully completed a deferred sentence or if you meet certain criteria regarding your misdemeanor or nonviolent felony conviction. To find out if you qualify for expungement of your arrest record or sealing of your court records, contact Oklahoma expungement lawyer Adam R. Banner. Don't let your past hold you back.