On November 1, 2012, House Bill 3091 took effect, significantly altering certain points of Oklahoma expungement laws. These changes affect the eligibility of certain individuals to have their records sealed, and they also allow admissibility of sealed records in certain court proceedings. If you are seeking relief from a criminal record that plagues your opportunities for employment, education, housing, and financial aid, an expungement of your record may be beneficial to you. However, not everyone convicted of a crime is eligible for an expungement, and there are different types of record expungement available. To find out if you may qualify to have your record cleared and how the new law may affect your eligibility, consult an Oklahoma expungement lawyer. This blog post explains some of the changes enacted under HB 3091. Juvenile Records Section 1 of HB 3091 amends
10A O.S. § 2-5-210 by allowing access to juvenile records to certain individuals in criminal proceedings without a court order. The wording of the law has been changed to replace the word "destroy" in conjunction with court recordsMembers of the judiciary, district attorneys, the youthful offender, counsel for the youthful offender, employees of juvenile bureaus and the Office of Juvenile Affairs who are assigned juvenile court intake responsibilities, and the Department of Corrections may access records that have been expunged pursuant to this subsection without a court order for the purpose of determining whether to dismiss an action, seek a voluntary probation, file a petition or information, or for purposes of sentencing or placement in a case where the person who is the subject of the sealed record is alleged to have committed a subsequent youthful offender act, a juvenile delinquent act, or any adult criminal offense. Provided, any record sealed pursuant to this section shall be ordered unsealed upon application of the prosecuting agency when said records are requested for use in any subsequent juvenile delinquent, youthful offender, or adult prosecution. As used in this paragraph, “expunge” shall mean the sealing of criminal records. In short, juvenile records eligible for expungement are no longer destroyed, but rather sealed, and they may be unsealed for use in further criminal prosecution, whether as a juvenile delinquent, youthful offender, or adult. Adult Records and Section 18/19 Expungements Section 2 of HB 3091 amends 22 O.S. § 18 to change certain eligibility requirements for criminal record expungement. Certain items under the earlier law have been stricken or combined, and other items have been added: Item 5 deals with expungements of records where no criminal charges were filed. It has been combined with Item 6, and language referring to the passing of one (1) year without charges filed or a case dismissed on its merits has been removed. Item 5 now reads: 5. The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges. With the combination of Items 5 and 6, the previous Item 7 was moved up to 6, and a new Items 7, 8, and 9 were added: 7. The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence; 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. Minor changes were made to the wording of Items 10, 11, and 12, which do not significantly impact the meaning of these conditions. However, the closing of the statute includes language that now allows, under certain conditions, the unsealing of records to be used in criminal prosecution: 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 order requesting the unsealing of said records. The changes made under HB 3091 only affect juvenile record expungement and Section 18/19 expungement. They do not apply to 991c expungements, the most common type of expungement in Oklahoma. Under a 991c expungement, a person who successfully completes a deferred sentence may have his or her name stricken from court documents and will have his file at the OSBI updated to indicates a plea of Not Guilty and a disposition of Case Dismissed. To speak with an Oklahoma expungement attorney about clearing your record, submit the confidential case review form found here.