Clearing a Criminal Record in Oklahoma
May 19, 2016
A criminal conviction can negatively impact one’s life for years. A conviction can affect important personal issues such as employment, professional licensure, child custody, financial aid, and many more. Any person with a conviction on their record knows how hard it can be to move on with your life. The discrimination that accompanies criminal conviction is unfortunate and unfair. The good news is that many states have laws allowing for such records to be sealed from public view. Oklahoma’s lawmakers created provisions within the law that allow for the sealing of certain types of criminal convictions.
There are essentially two types of expungements available in Oklahoma. Figuring out which kind of expungement is available to you requires knowing what kind of sentence you received. Oklahoma allows for the expungement of certain convictions, as well as expungement for a deferred sentence, which is technically not a conviction. If either of these forms of relief are available to you, it could be an opportunity to free yourself from the consequences associated with a criminal record.
Expunging a Deferred Sentence, 991c Expungements
Oklahoma law allows for certain, eligible first time-offenders to receive what is known as a “deferred sentence.” This procedure is a common tool used in many jurisdictions that allows the court to defer a finding of guilt. The Defendant enters a plea of guilty (or no contest), yet the court does not actually find the defendant guilty. The proceedings are deferred for a specified time period, whereby the defendant must satisfy the condition imposed by the court. Upon successful completion of the probationary period, the defendant is permitted to withdraw the original plea of guilty, enter a plea of not guilty, and the court dismisses the charge. Furthermore, the law allows for the original plea to be partially expunged from court records. This is a procedure that rewards first time offenders who successfully complete a deferred sentence. It is an incredible opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction and all of the negative consequences associated with such a conviction.
Many Oklahoma offenders who receive a deferred sentence believe that the record of the case is automatically dismissed and expunged upon completion of the sentence, but this is not the case. In many counties in Oklahoma, the record of the case and the plea still exist and are available to the public. In order to officially have the case dismissed and partially sealed from public view, a defendant must file a petition with the court. The petition is filed in the same court where the defendant originally pled. The petition for expunging a deferred sentence can be a complicated procedure, and it may be best to consult an experienced attorney to ensure your petition is correct.
State and Federal Firearm Restoration in Oklahoma
Another benefit of the 991c expungement is full restoration of State and Federal firearm rights. Because a deferred sentence is not a conviction, firearm restrictions should be lifted upon successful completion of the deferred probation sentence. However, if your case has not been formally dismissed pursuant to the statute and expunged, the court records would still reflect the original plea. If this charge was for a felony offense, you may have issues trying to purchase a firearm. The expungement procedure will ensure that the Oklahoma and Federal criminal databases accurately reflect the dismissal of your case.
OK Section 18 Expungements
Oklahoma has additional expungement options for offenders who were not fortunate to receive a deferred sentence. Furthermore, the expungement available under the law (section 18 of title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes) also applies to a deferred sentence. While this may seem confusing, as discussed in the previous section, the type of expungement available for a deferred sentence is a partial expungement. Section 18 provides for full expungement of not only the court records, but also the arrest and jail records. This is hugely beneficial to any person seeking to make sure their old charge or conviction is not available to the public.
So, who qualifies for an expungement?
The expungement law in Oklahoma is very specific about who qualifies for an expungement. Some of the provisions are fairly narrow and will only apply to a select group of individuals. These are instances that are typically considered out of the ordinary. You may qualify for an expungement if:
• You were acquitted
• Your case was reversed on appeal, and was dismissed by the prosecution
• DNA evidence has established factual innocence
• You received a full pardon on the basis of factual innocence
• You were a juvenile at the time of the offense, and received a full pardon
• You were the victim of identity theft
The additional provisions apply more broadly to those with arrests only, dismissed charges, and certain types of convictions.
ARREST ONLY: you were arrested and no charges were filed and the statute of limitations has run for that offense.
CHARGE WAS DIMISSED: you were charged with a felony or misdemeanor and all charges have been dismissed. You must never have been convicted of a felony and must not have any charges currently pending. The statute of limitation for the dismissed offense must have expired, or the prosecuting attorney can confirm that the charges will not be refiled.
MISDEMEANOR SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF DEFERRED SENTENCE: You must not have any felony convictions on your record, no charges are pending against you, and at least one (1) year has passed since your charge was dismissed.
FELONY SUCESSFUL COMPLETION OF DEFFERED SENTENCE: You must have been charged with a non-violent felony. Felonies included in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes are excluded from expungement. Your charge must have been dismissed following successful completion of a deferred sentence and you may not have any other felony convictions. The waiting period for expungement is five (5) years from the date of dismissal.
CONVICTION FOR MISDEMEANOR: You must not have ever been convicted of a felony, and no charges are currently pending against you.
• FINE ONLY: no waiting period
• JAIL TIME OR SUSPENDED SENTENCE: five (5) year waiting period.
• CONVICTION FOR FELONY: You must have a full governor’s pardon and meet many other waiting period and conviction requirements.
If you meet these requirements, you could qualify to have your arrest, charge, or conviction sealed from public view. It is imperative that you consult a knowledgeable attorney if you are interested in pursuing an expungement. The petition and the procedure for filing can be very complex and its best to have an attorney fighting to see that your record is cleared.
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