If you have a criminal record, wouldn't you want it to go away? Wouldn't you want to erase documentation of your past mistakes?
Many people wish they didn't have a record, but they don't do anything to get the record expunged. Why?
- They don't think they qualify.
- They think the process will be too difficult.
- They don't know that expungement is an option.
- They assume that the crime will "fall off" their record after a prescribed length of time.
- Their record hasn't caused them any problems . . . yet.
None of these reasons are valid excuses for not trying to get a record sealed. Many people qualify for expungement through either the expungement of a deferred sentence or a full expungement under Title 22 Section 18. Even those convicted of felonies may qualify if their convictions were for nonviolent offenses and they meet certain other eligibility requirements.
Why Should You Expunge Your Record?
Most people know that they are required to disclose felony convictions on most employment applications, but even misdemeanor convictions can have a significant impact on allowing you to move forward with your life.
Unfortunately, past offenses don't just disappear, no matter how long it has been or how good you have been since your arrest or conviction. If you want your record cleared, you must petition the court.
Here's how are just a few reasons for getting your record cleared.
Almost everyone knows that having a criminal record can impact your ability to get a good job. Some professions automatically exclude anyone convicted of a felony. In some cases, while a conviction won't automatically exclude you from employment eligibility, it may cause employer's to view your application with bias. All other things being equal, most employers will pick an applicant with a clean record over someone with a minor conviction.
A criminal record can prevent you from obtaining certain state licenses, for example a teaching license from the Oklahoma State Department of Education or a nursing license from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. If a conviction prevents you from obtaining the license to practice the career for which you have trained, it can be tremendously costly to return to school to train for a new career.
Continuing Your Education
And speaking of career training, your criminal record may have a negative impact on your ability to get an education. You may be denied admission to a vocational or technical school or to a university. If the university is willing to admit you despite your record, you may be unable to secure the necessary grants and loans to finance your education.
Getting a Loan
An educational loan isn't the only type of financial assistance which may be denied to you based upon your criminal record. Some banks and financial institutions will see your prior conviction as evidence of your instability. They feel that lending to you would be an unwise investment on their part, and your loan application may be denied. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate at which you receive the loan may be exorbitant, making receipt of the loan an unwise financial decision on your part.
And since we are talking about high rates and financial problems, let's look at how your conviction can affect your ability to obtain insurance. Again, your conviction can make an insurance company think that you are a high risk, especially when trying to get car insurance after a DUI or reckless driving conviction. You may be denied insurance altogether, or you may be given high-risk insurance that may be cost-prohibitive to you.
Adopting a Child
If you wish to start or grow your family through adoption or becoming a foster parent, Oklahoma Department of Human Services will conduct an extensive background search, including a criminal records check. Oklahoma is not one of 15 states that automatically exclude convicted felons from adopting, but your criminal history can prevent you from being able to adopt a child.
Both state and federal law prohibit a person from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a felony. However, under Oklahoma law, you may be prevented from obtaining a firearm permit if you have certain other blemishes on your criminal history. If your OSBI background check shows aggravated assault and battery, stalking, domestic violence, and other similar offenses, you will not be able to get a gun license pursuant to the Oklahoma Self Defense Act.
If you have children, you may wish to volunteer at special events at their schools. However, Oklahoma public schools must conduct criminal background checks of not only teachers, but also parent volunteers. If you have a criminal record, volunteering at schools and other organizations may be prohibited. Typically, all programs that involve working with youth require volunteers to have a clean record, but other organizations are also likely to prevent you from volunteering if your record is blemished.
Securing Federal Assistance
Many people do not realize that you may be denied federal assistance, including subsidized or low-rent housing and food stamps, if you have a criminal record. Your conviction can prevent you from getting the help you need to get back on your feet and to support your family.
Peace of Mind
One of the most important reasons to clear your record is your own peace of mind. With the criminal history removed through record expungement, you no longer have to worry that a nosy neighbor or curious co-worker will find a criminal history that you hoped was buried in the past. Oklahoma court records are publicly available online here and here. One quick snoop can lead to rumors, character assassination, and strained relationships. However, if your record is expunged, your name will be stricken from court records and will not show up in an online records check. You will also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your record will not plague any of the previously mentioned opportunities, nor will it show up in unexpected places to prevent you from achieving other goals.
Hiring A Lawyer to Expunge Your Record
When you hire a law firm to expunge your record, the process is fairly simple, and your likelihood of obtaining a record expungement is high. If you're thinking of attempting this process on your own, here are a few reasons why you might consider having a lawyer perform your expunction.
If you're ready to move forward with a clean record, give us a call at 405-778-4800 to see how we can help.