You may not realize it, but if you have been arrested, you have a record on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The OSBI maintains a record of your "criminal history," even if you were never charged with a crime after your arrest, your case was dismissed, you were acquitted at trial, or your court records were sealed after the expungement of a deferred sentence. This criminal record can cause substantial problems and misunderstandings.
Fortunately, Oklahoma law provides a way for the expungement of your arrest record with the OSBI. Unlike a Section 991(c) expungement, which merely strikes your name from court records, a Section 18/19 expungement is considered a full expungement. It deletes your name from court records and seals your file with the OSBI.
When you have fulfilled your sentence for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony, you deserve to be able to move on from the errors in your past. If your arrest was a mistake, and you were never formally charged, your case was dismissed, or you were found not guilty, you should not continue to be burdened by a criminal record created because of someone else's rush to judgment. Speak with an expungement lawyer to find out how to have your arrest and conviction record sealed.
Qualifying for a Section 18/19 Expungement
As a "full expungement," an expungement as described in 22 O.S. §18-19 is the most desirable method of clearing one's record. However, it is more difficult to obtain than an expungement of a deferred sentence under 22 O.S. § 991(c), which only deletes a defendant's name from court records and updates the file to show that the defendant pleaded not guilty and his or her case was dismissed.
Section 18 lists twelve specific criteria for expungement eligibility. Anyone wishing to file a petition for expungement of the OSBI record must meet at least one of the qualifying standards:
- The defendant was acquitted
- The conviction was reversed on appeal and the case subsequently dismissed
- A defendant is exonerated by DNA
- The Governor grants a full pardon on the basis of a written finding of actual innocence
- No charges were filed after an arrest, and the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges or the statute of limitations for the offense has expired
- The defendant was a juvenile under the age of 18 when the crime was committed, and he or she has since received a full pardon
- The misdemeanor or felony charges against a defendant have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, there are no criminal cases pending against him or her, and either the statute of limitations for refiling charges has expired or the prosecution confirms that charges will not be refiled. This provision excludes the dismissal of charges after completion of a deferred sentence, which is eligible for expungement under § 991(c)
- A misdemeanor charge was dismissed upon completion of a deferred sentence, at least 2 years have passed since the charge was dismissed, and the person was never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and has no criminal charges pending
- A nonviolent felony charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred sentence, and at least 10 years have passed since the dismissal of the charge with no misdemeanor or felony convictions and no pending criminal charges in the interim
- At least 10 years have passed since a misdemeanor conviction with no other misdemeanor or felony convictions and no pending criminal charges in the interim
- A person has received a full pardon for a nonviolent felony offense, and at least 10 years have passed since the conviction with no other criminal convictions or pending charges
- The person was arrested, charged, or the subject of a warrant for a crime committed by another person illegally using his or her name or identification
If one or more of these conditions are met, a person plagued by a criminal history can file a petition for expungement to have his or her court records and OSBI records sealed.
According to revisions in the state law taking effect November 1, 2013, sealed records may be still available to law enforcement under certain conditions.
- Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of this section shall be sealed to the public but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes.
- Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11 of this section shall be admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without the necessity of a court orderrequesting the unsealing of said records.
While sealed records may be available to law enforcement in subsequent criminal cases, most people looking to have their records sealed are more concerned with the public having access to those records and the ensuing hardships for employment and other opportunities.
Record Expungement Representation
The process for filing for expungement is defined in 22 O.S. § 19. However, this is a process with which your attorney should be intimately familiar. What may be a new and complex procedure to you is routine for an expungement lawyer. By obtaining skillful representation, you afford yourself the opportunity to receive an expungement of your record with minimal hassle.
It is important to note that the OSBI, the District Attorney's Office, and any law enforcement agency that has records have the right to challenge your record expungement. If the agency feels that the public interest in knowing about your criminal history outweighs your right to privacy, they can and will protest the sealing of your records. You must have a competent attorney fighting on your behalf in order to overrule the challenges of the OSBI.
For more information how to seal your record or to schedule a confidential case review with one of our expungement attorneys in Oklahoma City, call (405) 418-8888 or submit the provided online case review form. Do not let your record haunt you any longer. Call today.
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