An Oklahoma expungement lawyer can help you clear your criminal record to minimize or eliminate the impact it has on your life. Once your legal debt has been paid--or if there was no debt to pay--there is no reason a criminal record of a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony should continue to hinder your employment opportunities, housing options, or ability to secure a financial loan. Though there are many reasons for expungement and several ways with which one my qualify for criminal record expungement, perhaps the most common is the expungement of a guilty plea or plea of no contest after successful completion of a deferred sentence. In a deferred sentence situation, a defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the crime with which he or she is charged--generally a misdemeanor such as a DUI. The judge withholds sentencing contingent upon the defendants successful compliance with the terms of a probationary period. In a deferred sentence, a person may receive community service, mandatory drug or alcohol treatment or counseling, and other restrictions in lieu of jail time. If the defendant adheres to all the terms of the probation and deferred sentencing agreement, at the end of the probationary period, his or her guilty plea will be stricken from the court records and the record will read "Pled Not Guilty, Case Dismissed." A deferred sentence is a positive result to a first-offense criminal case, allowing the defendant to avoid not only jail time, but also record of a criminal conviction. After completion of a deferred sentence, the defendant can honestly answer, "No," to the employment application question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" However, many people fail to realize that the expungement of a plea of guilt or no contest does not permanently erase one's criminal record. Though court records are updated to read that the accused pled not guilty and the case was dismissed, a person's arrest record remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). This means that anyone conducting a criminal background search with the OSBI will still turn up a record of the arrest along with the charge for which the defendant was arrested--even if he or she was never formally charged or convicted. To permanently clear even one's arrest record on file with the OSBI, certain criteria must be met. The Bureau itself recommends hiring an attorney to help petition to clear one's record. For more information on how to qualify for a complete expungement of your criminal record--both in court records and with the OSBI, contact an experienced Oklahoma expungements attorney.
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