What is Expungement?
Oklahoma offers expungement of conviction records. The state does not delete or destroy your criminal record but removes it and makes it unavailable to the public. Only judges and law enforcement can see an expunged record. Employers, landlords, banks, and anyone else in the public cannot see an expunged record, unless you give them permission.
There are several types of expungement in Oklahoma, such as a section 18 expungement, a 991 (C) expungement, or a section 19(A) expungement. The numbers refer to the statute that governs a type of expungement.
Expungement in Oklahoma is complex. Whether you can expunge a record is controlled by the type of offense and the end result or disposition.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
In general, you are eligible to have a record expunged if no charges were filed, the charges were dismissed, the charges were deferred and dismissed, you were found not guilty, or you were pardoned. You cannot expunge a record if you have charges pending for either a misdemeanor or a felony.
You may be eligible for an expungement if:
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor five years ago.
You may also be eligible for expungement if:
- You were convicted of a nonviolent felony;
- You had no other convictions in the last seven years; and
- It has been at least five years since you completed your sentence.
Oklahoma has six types of expungement, based on statutes:
- Section 18 expungement: Expungement of arrest and conviction records based on certain crimes and situations.
- Section 991 (C): Expungement after deferred or delayed sentences or probation.
- Section 60.18: Expungement of a protective order issued against you.
- Section 19(A): Expungement if your identity was stolen.
- Section 19(C): Expungement of crimes committed as a result of human trafficking.
In some cases, such as section 991(C) expungement for a deferred sentence, the expungement will delete all court records related to the offense. But the expungement will not delete arrest records held by the OSBI. Those records will still be available to the public. In that case, you should ask for a Section 18 expungement, too.
If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for expungement, consult with an attorney.
What Effect Does Expungement Have?
Once a Oklahoma court grants an expungement, the court seals those records. Depending on the type of expungement, the arrest records kept by the OSBI may remain open to the public. A section 18 expungement order will seal those records. They will not be available to the public. All expunged records remain available to courts and law enforcement.
Once your arrest, conviction, dismissal, or acquittal is sealed, in most cases, you can legally deny being arrested or convicted.
When Can I Apply for Expungement?
You can apply for expungement of a conviction only after you have completed your sentence. You must count from whatever date is the most recent, such as the date of conviction, completion of sentence, completion of probation or parole, or final payment of restitution. Then you must wait for several years.
You may also apply for an expungement, if:
- Your conviction is for a misdemeanor and you received a fine less than $501, you can apply immediately after you pay the fine.
- Your conviction is for a misdemeanor and you received a prison or jail term, a suspended sentence, or a fine more than $500, you must wait five years.
- You were convicted of a nonviolent felony, with no other felony convictions, and no misdemeanor convictions for seven years, you must wait five years.
- You were convicted of no more than 2 nonviolent felonies, and you were pardoned for both, you must wait 20 years after the last conviction.
- A court entered a protective order against you, you can expunge the order if the person who asked for it died, the order was vacated at least three years ago, or it was a temporary order that was withdrawn, denied, or dismissed. You must wait at least 90 days after the date of the last hearing.
If you were the victim of identity theft or human trafficking, there is no wait.
How Do I Apply for Expungement?
Here are the eight steps to apply for expungement:
- Go to the court in the county where you were charged.
- Ask the clerk for a petition to expunge.
- Complete the petition to file it with the court.
- Pay the filing fee.
- Get a hearing date from the court clerk. You will have at least 30 days to prepare for the hearing.
- Send a copy of your petition to expunge to the district attorney, the agency that arrested you, and the OSBI to notify them.
- Go to the hearing. The judge will grant your petition to expunge if you meet all the legal requirements and the judge decides that the harm to your privacy outweighs the public interest in keeping the records available. If the judge grants your petition, the judge will order state agencies to remove your records from public view.
- Pay the $150.00 expungement fee. Acceptable forms of payment include check or money order, may payable to the “OSBI.”
More Information About Expungement
For more information about expungement, the OSBI has a brochure that gives you the exact language of the statutes that cover expungement. You can access the brochure on the OSBI website here: Criminal Record Expungements
For more helpful information, visit the Legal Aid of Oklahoma website here: Legal Aid OK.