Any arrest, charge, or conviction carries with it a record of the brush with the law. Court and a criminal records with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation can come back to haunt a person trying to move past a criminal conviction or accusation. An expungement lawyer can help you to move on from a criminal past. Many people are embarrassed by their past court dealings, but the consequences of a criminal past extend far beyond personal shame.
Employment background checks are common, and a blemish on your record, whether a misdemeanor or felony offense, can cost you the job. A criminal past may make it difficult or impossible to obtain a housing lease, secure a financial loan, enter the military, gain admission to a college or university, earn professional licensure, or even volunteer at your child's school.
Additionally, your record is public, meaning anyone—from nosy neighbors to curious colleagues to prospective in-laws—can search the criminal databases online at the Oklahoma State Courts Network (www.oscn.net) or On Demand Court Records (www1.odcr.com).
If you have been completed a deferred sentence or served your sentence for conviction of a crime, you have paid your dues. The lingering criminal record can force you to deal with the consequences of a mistake long after you have moved beyond the circumstances that led to your arrest. When you want to leave the past behind you, filing a petition with the State of Oklahoma for expungement of your record can give you a fresh start.
What is an Expungement?
Many people talk of clearing or sealing their record. This process is referred to as expungement (or in some cases, expunction) of the criminal file. In Oklahoma, there are two types for which an individual may qualify. The first, defined under 22 O.S. § 991c of the state code, allows for the clearing your record following successful completion of a deferred sentence. This allows the defendants name to be sealed from Oklahoma court records and public view, and the disposition of the case is changed from a guilty plea to reflect a plea of not guilty, case dismissed.
While this seals your court record from public checks, your arrest record remains on file with the OSBI. However, a 991c does remove your files from the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) and ODCR websites, and your OSCN background check will reveal record that says you pled not guilty and your case was dismissed.
Criteria for Qualifying
In order to seal your Oklahoma criminal record, you must meet specified criteria outlined under 22 O.S. § 18-19. These statutes explain the qualifications and procedures in Oklahoma.
More people will qualify for a Section 991(c) than a Section 18/19; however, the two are not mutually exclusive. If you would like to clear your record, consulting a qualified lawyer is the first step. An attorney can examine your file to determine the best option for which you qualify, and he knows the procedure for quickly and properly petitioning the court for an expungement of your court records or criminal history.
What Types of Records Can Be Expunged in OKC?
Anyone who complies with the terms of his or her probation under a deferred sentence is eligible to have his or her record expunged under 22 O.S. § 991(c). People convicted of certain misdemeanors and non-violent felonies may be eligible under 22 O.S. § 18-19. In many cases, a person may have his or her juvenile record expunged, and people who were arrested but never charged can have their OSBI arrest record expunged. It is highly recommended that those looking to seal a felony record hire a qualified lawyer to assist you in the process.
Hiring a Lawyer for Expunging Your Record
In the state of Oklahoma this process is not automatic. Your convictions do not simply "fall off" your record after a set amount of time. You must petition the court to have your record expunged.
In most cases, you only get one shot at doing it right. By hiring a lawyer to handle this process, you ensure that your petition is filed correctly and filed in the proper place. In the case of Section 18/19, the OSBI, the District Attorney's Office, and any police agency that maintains your records have the right to challenge the sealing of your record if the agency feels that the public interest of knowing about your past outweighs your personal right to privacy.
If your expungement is contested, it is critical that you have experienced Oklahoma City expungement lawyers on your side to fight the challenge. When you have had enough of your criminal past infringing on your present, call (405) 418-8888 to speak with an attorney.
What are the Costs for Expunging a Criminal Record in Oklahoma?
There are at least three types of costs in a typical Oklahoma expungement case.
- Attorney’s Fee
- District Court's filing fee
- Processing fee paid to OSBI
- Processing fee paid to the Municipality (if necessary)
As of 2017, the filing fee for an expungement in Oklahoma County is $154.14. The payment is made directly to the Court Clerk. This allows you to file your petition for expungement and get a hearing in front of a judge.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) collects data on arrests and criminal charges. If you are arrested, the arresting agency generally sends your information to OSBI, and they keep your information on file. There are times when the police or sheriff’s office neglects to send your file to OSBI, but the arresting agency will still have their records.
After your case is successfully expunged, a certified copy of that Court Order will be sent to all agencies (including OSBI) that have your record on file.
A fee of $150 is charged by the OSBI for handling the paperwork. The fee's your attorney will charge are often dependent upon the circumstances of your case.