Written by attorney Sonja R Porter

Expungements in Oklahoma

Everyone wants to know if they can get a charge or case expunged from their record. Each state has different requirement as well as different results. There are three types of expungements in Oklahoma. Each have their own criteria and procedures. The following is an overview. DEFERRED SENTENCE EXPUNGEMENT. This is the most common type of expungment obtained in Oklahoma. "Expunged" here means that Courthouse records are sealed from the public as to the defendant's name and charges. The Court Clerk cannot release information or documents. Also, OSBI is updated only. It does not remove the arrest and charges from criminal background records kept by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI). The plea of guilty or no contest and any mention of a deferred are cleared and the disposition will read "plead not guilty, case dismissed." To be elgible, the defendant must have successfully completed the probation and have paid all fines and costs. It is ordered by Court at "final sentence" or at the end of the probation. It is the defendant's (or his attorney's) responsibility to see that it gets done and get a certified copy of the order/minute sent to OSBI. Once expunged, the court record can only be obtained by the client, law enforcement, or by court order. COMPLETE EXPUNGEMENT This is what most people want, but very few cases qualify. Here, "expungement" means removing the arrest and charge from the court records and OSBI's public record. It does not remove anything from the driver's license records of the Department of Public Safety. To be eligible, a case must fit into one of the limited categories. The two most common are (1) charges are dismissed within 1 year of the date of the arrest (includes those cases dismissed after successful probation within one year of arrest) and (2) at least 10 years have passed since the plea was entered and the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony and none are pending. (Felonies additionally require a pardon to be considered) In addition, the Court must find that "the harm to privacy of the person in interest or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences outweigh the public interest in the retaining the records." The courts have held that multiple convictions on the record may prevent expungement. A petition to expunge must be filed and often requires a filing fee. A hearing date is set. If the various agencies involved agree, then an order is passed around and resolved quickly. Sometimes a hearing must held and the judge has to decide. Once the records are sealed, the public has no access to the record. Law enforcement has limited access. Regardless, the actions shall be deemed to have never occurred and the person may answer as if it never occurred. Employers may not deny employment if the person says it never occurred. EXPUNGMENT OF VPO'S This is sought because the issuance of a VPO is posted on a person's record. To be eligible, it must fit into a category, which include the petition was dismissed before hearing, the petition was denied upon full hearing, and the petition denied for plaintiff's failure to appear. In addition, the court must find that the harm to the privacy of the person or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences outweigh public and safety interests This expungement requires filing a petition and having a hearing to determine if the matter fits the criteria. Because of the complexity of the forms required, it is best to hire an attorney to accomplish this.

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