If you have an arrest record or criminal court record, you likely want that record to be erased so that you can move forward unencumbered by the stigma and collateral consequences of having a criminal record. Often, the offense that triggered the record was long in the past, and the person troubled by it bears no resemblance to the person who was arrested and convicted of a crime so many years ago. Other times, the arrest, deferred sentence, or conviction was the result of a common mistake that led to a misdemeanor charge for DUI, simple assault, or shoplifting. These simple errors in judgement should not have to burden you for a lifetime. And finally, sometimes, a person is arrested mistakenly and charges are dismissed--yet the court record remains, causing prospective employers and others to eye the applicant with suspicion, despite the dismissal.
Fortunately, you likely have the opportunity to clear your record through an expungement, a legal process that can strike your name from court records or seal arrest records available through an OSBI background check.
In Oklahoma, there are four types of record expungement, each with differing qualifiers and varying degrees of clearing the record:
- Juvenile Record Expungement
- Victim's Protective Order Expungement
- Section 991c (Deferred Sentence) Expungement
- Section 18/19 (Full) Expungement
How do you determine which type of expungement you may qualify for and which type of expungement is right for you? Let's take a brief look at each type.
Juvenile Record Expungement
While juvenile records are typically sealed, this is not always the case. There are certain exceptions, including traffic violations, adult or youthful offender certification, multiple juvenile delinquent adjudications for a teen aged 14 or older, and more. The qualifications for juvenile record expungement are found in 10A O.S. § 2-6-109:
- You must be 21 or older
- You must not have any arrests or pending criminal cases as an adult
- You may not have any other convictions or deferred sentences
- All court ordered requirements, including court costs, restitution, and fines, have been met
If you have had a victim's protective order (VPO), sometimes called a restraining order, filed against you, the record of that VPO remains and can be very troubling. However, the record of the VPO can be expunged under the following conditions, listed in 22 O.S. § 60.18:
- An ex parte order was dismissed or denied at the full hearing, and at least 90 days have passed since the last court date.
- The plaintiff filed an application for a victim protective order, but failed to appear for the full hearing, and at least 90 days have passed since the last set court date;
- The order was vacated and at least three years have passed since the order to vacate was entered; or
- The plaintiff or defendant has died.
Deferred Sentence Expungement
A deferred sentence occurs when a defendant pleads guilty to a crime, but the judge delays accepting the plea and instead gives the person probation instead of a jail or prison sentence. If the defendant completes probation without violating its terms, then the guilty plea is changed to "not guilty," the case is dismissed, and court records are updated to reflect the dismissal. The defendant's name is then stricken from court records. However, the arrest record remains on file with the OSBI. The process is not necessarily automatic, so it is important to talk to your attorney to make sure the expungement takes place. The process for deferred record expungement is found in 22 O.S. § 991c. Learn more here.
Full Record Expungement
In order to obtain a "full" expungement of a criminal record, including the sealing of your OSBI arrest record, you must petition for record expungement under 22 O.S. § 18. This type of expungement is preferable for most people. Often, a person whose record is sealed under a Section 991c expungement will later qualify for expungement under Section 18/19. The two types are not mutually exclusive, so a deferred sentence expungement may be a stepping stone to full expungement. Oklahoma law lists 12 specific ways in which a person may qualify for a full record expungement under Section 18/19. Find out the criteria for full record expungement here.