Oklahoma is fast approaching a 7% unemployment rate. As the number of jobless Oklahomans increases, it becomes harder and harder for workers to find gainful employment. The job market is increasingly competitive, and even highly qualified individuals have a hard time finding work.
Your Legal Options
For job-seekers with a criminal record, the picture becomes even bleaker. Employers often look at an applicant's past conviction and immediately decide not to hire that person. They don't take into account the severity of the crime, the length of time that has passed since the conviction, or the applicant's age at the time of conviction. Job-seekers may become discouraged after repeatedly enduring employment discrimination due to a prior conviction.
Sealing Your Record with an Expungement
However, there is hope for Oklahoma job-seekers with a past conviction. An Oklahoma criminal lawyer can file a petition for expungement of records of one's arrest or convictions. An expungement is the legal process of having the record of a person's criminal conviction or arrest sealed from public view.
Many people mistakenly believe that if there is no conviction as a result of an arrest, the record of that arrest is purged. Additionally, many people assume that juvenile arrest records are automatically expunged when the convicted person reaches the age of 21. However, the arrest is still part of public record unless a competent Oklahoma expungement attorney fights for the arrest record or criminal conviction to be expunged. There are two types of Oklahoma expungements:
- A Section 991c expungement allows a person's plea to be expunged after the completion of a deferred sentence. The plea is changed from "guilty" or "no contest" to "not guilty," and the disposition changed from "deferred sentence" to "case dismissed." However, the arrest record remains a part of OSBI (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) records.
- A Section 18 expungement allows a person to expunge their entire arrest record, but it is more difficult to obtain. People seeking a Section 18 expungement must meet at least one of ten criteria, including acquittal, appellate reversal of charges, governor pardon, and no charges filed as a result of the arrest within one year of arrest.
If you are a job-seeker looking to make a fresh start without being discriminated against for your prior arrests or convictions, contact an experienced Oklahoma expungement lawyer to evaluate your case.