If you have a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record, you are likely looking forward to the day when that blemish is removed, and you can move forward with a clean record. Unfortunately, it is a misconception that an offense will just "fall off" of your record after a designated period of time.
A criminal record is not like a credit report or DMV record, which only date back a certain number of years, allowing you a clean record after a prescribed length of time with prompt payment or good driving. Rather, an offense remains on your criminal history unless removed by court order through an expungement.
Expunging A DUI from Your Record
How, then, is this idea of a DUI or other offense falling off of your record propagated? Under certain circumstances, the length of time following an offense matters for clearing a record, but the expungement is not automatic.
In order to understand how to remove a criminal offense from one's record, one must first understand that there are two different types of expungement under Oklahoma law. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they function quite differently and have different eligibility requirements.
Types of Record Expungements
The first type of expungement is possible after the completion of a deferred sentence. Described in Title 22, Section 991(c) of the Oklahoma statutes, the expungement of a deferred sentence allows a defendant's name to be stricken from court documents and the disposition of his or her case to be changed to reflect a not guilty plea and a dismissal of the case. In order to obtain a Section 991(c) expungement, the defendant must satisfactorily comply with all of the terms of his or her probation. There is no need to wait a prescribed amount of time for the expungement of a deferred sentence. Once the probation is complete, the defendant is eligible for expungement. It is important to note a couple of things about a Section 991(c) expungement. First, the process may not be automatic. In some counties, a judge will require the defendant to return to court in order to have the record cleared. To determine whether or not you have to go back to court after finishing your probation, talk to your attorney. Second, a Section 991(c) is not a full expungement. While it deletes a defendant's name from the court records involving the case, the person's arrest record remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).
Getting a full expungement under Title 22, Section 18 is a bit more complex than the expungement of a deferred sentence. This type of expungement requires a formal petition, typically filed by an attorney. It is this type of expungement which may require the passing of a prescribed amount of time without further offenses. Items 8 through 10 give examples of being authorized to file a motion for expungement after a designated time period:
- 8. The person was charged with a misdemeanor, 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 two (2) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
- 9. The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, as set forth 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;
- 10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction;
As you can see, getting a misdemeanor expunged after a deferred sentence can speed up a person's ability to get a full expungement, allowing eligibility after two years rather than ten. Still, this process is not automatic, and your offense will not simply "fall off" your record. Click here to learn more about Oklahoma expungement laws, or contact a lawyer to file a motion for expungement of your criminal record.