How Do I Get a Misdemeanor Expunged?

Most people with a "criminal record" are otherwise law-abiding citizens who made a mistake, who acted impulsively in their youth, or who committed a rash act and have since tried to move forward from that past blemish on their record. Many of these criminal records contain only a misdemeanor conviction, and although the record may cause difficulty or embarrassment for the person named in the court records, it is no indication of current or future propensity for crime. Shoplifting as a minor, a fight in college, or a DUI after one too many drinks at happy hour can all leave a lasting record that can show up in background checks and complicate opportunities long after the debt is paid. So what can you do about it? Oklahoma law allows the expungement--or sealing--of criminal records under  a specific set of circumstances defined in 22 O.S. § 991c and 22 O.S. § 18. The type of expungement for which you are eligible depends on certain factors of your case, but the two types may not be mutually exclusive. First, Section 991c describes the expungement of the court record after successful completion of a deferred sentence. Many people who have only a single misdemeanor offense on their record can achieve this type of expungement while awaiting the fuller record expungement granted in Section 18. A deferred sentence is a type of sentencing that allows first offenders and those accused of minor offenses to avoid conviction and jail time. In such a case, the defendant would plead guilty, but the judge would delay sentencing until giving the defendant the opportunity to serve probation instead. Under § 991c, when the defendant successfully completes probation and complies with all court orders, his or her plea is changed from "guilty" to "not guilty," and the case is dismissed. Section 991c only applies to deferred sentences, however. A suspended sentence or other conviction requires a Section 18 expungement to clear the record. Section 18 more thoroughly seals the record, applying not only to court records but also the OSBI arrest record. While a person who was not given a deferred sentence is not eligible for Section 991c expungement, a person who was given a deferred sentence may be able to obtain both a Section 991c expungement for immediate relief followed by a Section 18 expungement for more thorough relief. State law allows for the expungement of misdemeanor convictions and deferred sentences under the following circumstances listed in 22 O.S. § 18:

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 one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;

10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person has not been convicted a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the end of the last misdemeanor sentence.

A misdemeanor conviction does not have to stay with you, and record of your past mistakes does not have to plague your current situation. You can successfully clear your record and make a fresh start without the embarrassment of a misdemeanor record.