Anyone who has a blemish on his or her criminal record can have trouble as a result, particularly when it comes to employment background checks. In some cases, a person may not have to disclose a misdemeanor conviction on the application, but it still shows up if a prospective employer conducts a criminal record check. Other times, an application specifically asks if the applicant has been convicted of a felony, and this disclosure automatically precludes a person from employment.
Who Qualifies for Record Expungement?
Fortunately, for Oklahomans with past mistakes, record expungement may be possible for not only misdemeanor offenses, but also certain felony convictions.
When considering whether or not a felony conviction may be expunged from one's criminal record, the first thing to consider is whether the offense is considered to be a violent felony or a non-violent felony. Violent felonies (defined in 57 O.S. § 571) are not eligible for expungement.
Oklahoma law lists 52 violent crimes which are inexpugnable, including sex crimes, crimes against children, certain types of assault, robbery, first degree burglary, certain crimes involving the use of a firearm, murder, manslaughter, and more.
Nonviolent felony convictions for crimes not stipulated by law as "violent crimes" are expugnable under 22 O.S. § 18 under the following eligibility conditions:
- The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the district attorney subsequently dismissed the charge;
- The factual innocence of the person was established by the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence subsequent to conviction, including a person who has been released from prison at the time innocence was established;
- The person has received a full pardon on the basis of a written finding by the Governor of actual innocence for the crime for which the claimant was sentenced;.
- The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, not listed 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;
- The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other felony, the person has not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last fifteen (15) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the felony conviction;
Being exonerated makes a person eligible for record expungement, but most people with felony convictions will not find themselves eligible through a finding of actual innocence. For the most part, people with nonviolent felony convictions are able to have the record sealed if they have no other convictions and at least 10 years have passed since the conviction.
Record expungement can be very important, because, by law, a person may state that he or she has not been convicted of a felony once the record is expunged:
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. § 19d).
Learn more about clearing an Oklahoma criminal record by calling (405) 418-8888 or submitting our online case review form.