Criminal Expungement Myths That Are Holding You Back

by Ball Morse Lowe on July 3, 2018

Criminal Expungement Myths

If your record isn’t exactly spotless, the opportunity of a clean slate may appeal to you. Criminal expungement is the process

in which a record can be destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. Essentially, the order directs the court to treat the conviction like it never existed.

However, it’s important to clarify that criminal expungement doesn’t operate like a legal pardon. Unlike pardons, expungement proceedings must be ordered by a judge or court. They typically take place in state court and the procedures may vary by location.

There are a lot of misconceptions about criminal expungement in Oklahoma. From eligibility to the process itself, it can be difficult (not to mention, intimidating) to navigate. In today’s blog, we’ll be presenting common myths surrounding Oklahoma’s expungement process and shedding light on the real facts.

Myth: Getting my record expunged means it will never show up on any future background checks.

Public records are constantly changing based on case status updates, error corrections and expungements. So, a file’s completeness will largely depend on how often the CRA reviews and updates public record information. The problem is that many agencies purchase records in bulk and fail to regularly update the records they have.  

Don’t let that deter you from expunging your record, though. There are various laws in place that protect you from having the case used against you by employers or landlords. And, because they don’t want to get sued, many will not use Google to check backgrounds.

The kind of expungement will also affect how well the conviction is concealed. For example, Section 991c dismisses the charge and strikes your name from court records but leaves your OSBI record intact. Whereas, a Section 18/19 is much more thorough.

Myth: Convictions only appear on criminal records. My case was dismissed so I have nothing to worry about.

While this is true for many states, it doesn’t cover all. In some states, you have to ask the court to expunge cases that don’t result in a conviction. So, until you ask the court to expunge the record it remains in public. Or, in places like Alaska, you can only expunge dismissals under limited circumstances.

For Oklahoma specifically, records on file with OSBI and the Oklahoma State Courts Network don’t just include criminal convictions. They also note arrests, pending charges and dismissed charges after the completion of a deferred sentence. When in doubt, it’s beneficial to have the record expunged even if the case against you was dismissed.

Myth: The case will fall off my record in 5-10 years if I stay out of trouble.

There’s a myth out there that criminal records are automatically expunged after 5-10 years. However, criminal convictions aren’t automatically sealed or cleared from your record simply because time has passed.

Your eligibility may rely on a specific amount of time or improve your chances of expungement. But, even if a charge is dismissed upon the completion of a deferred sentence, the process of expungement isn’t automatic.

 Myth: Only misdemeanors can be expunged.

Misdemeanors aren’t the only criminal convictions that can be sealed or expunged from a record. Non-violent felonies are also eligible when the following criteria are met:

  • -Charged with a nonviolent felony offense – The charge was dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, no charges are pending against the person and at least 10 years have passed since the charge was dismissed.
  • -Convicted of a nonviolent felony offense – The person has received a full pardon, hasn’t been convicted of any other felony, hasn’t been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last 15 years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person and at least 10 years have passed since the felony conviction.

Violent crimes aren’t eligible for expungement unless you have been exonerated by the finding of innocence or the appellate court has reversed the conviction and ordered the lower court to dismiss the charge.

Myth: Expungement won’t do me any good because I have to admit it on employment applications.

In Oklahoma, once a record has been expunged, you no longer have to disclose the conviction. In fact, you can even deem that it never occurred. In other words, you’re legally able to state that it never happened because no record exists. 

It’s never too late to apply for expungement.

So many people walk through life with simple charges, feeling the negative impacts of a charge on a record and not knowing there’s an opportunity for a clean slate.

It never hurts to learn if you’re eligible. And if you are, you can make a formal request to the court. Because criminal expungement is fairly complicated, it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced attorney. Consulting with one is the best way to ensure all procedures are being followed during the filing process.

To learn more about criminal expungement and whether you qualify, reach out to us today at 405-701-6376.

Wondering how you can improve your chances of expungement?

In this free ebook, we explain the process of expunging a record, key benefits and how you can positively position your case for the courtroom. To access your free copy, click below!

How to Improve Your Chances of Criminal Expungement