Expungement can seem like a scary and complicated process when you first start researching all the steps. It’s normal to feel uncertainty, but at the end of the day, a shot at a second chance is worth it for a lot of Oklahomans.
For some people, expungement might equal new job opportunities, the ability to obtain a professional license, restored rights to own guns or vote in the next election. No doubt, it's frustrating when a criminal past prevents future success or the ability to enjoy basic freedoms granted to every other American.
Here are some of the most common questions asked on how to remove a criminal record. Hopefully, these will answer a few for you! However, if you have more, you can always call us at Ball Morse Lowe, PLLC and speak with a trusted member of our team.
1. Is a criminal record publicly available?
Yes. If you have a criminal record and you’re not a juvenile, the information is always public unless you’ve completed the expungement process to keep the records sealed.
2. What is expungement?
Expungement allows you to seal a court record or arrest record, which prevents the public from viewing it, such as a future employer or a landlord.
3. If I have multiple arrests, do I have to file each one separately?
Yes. Generally speaking, you will need to file a separate expungement petition for each separate arrest arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.
4. How much does it cost?
There is a $150 processing fee for arrest records, plus any additional local processing costs and fees. However, you’ll have to budget for your attorney expenses.
5. Do I qualify?
There is no pre-approval process for expungement in Oklahoma, and not everyone is eligible. Even if you are eligible, it does not guarantee that your case will be expunged. However, 22 O.S. 18 outlines 14 categories of cases that typically qualify for expungement.
Here are some examples to consider:
- People who were acquitted
- People who were victims of identity theft
- People who were arrested but never charged
- People who were charged with a misdemeanor but successfully completed probation
- Individuals who were under 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed and have received a full pardon for the offense
6. Does the age of the record matter?
There currently isn’t an age limit on arrest records that disqualify them for expungement. It doesn’t matter when the record occurred just as long as the person is eligible for expungement. However, it’s important to recognize that your eligibility may rely on a specific amount of time having passed since the case was resolved.
7. Will my FBI record be expunged too?
Yes. If your records are sealed by the courts, that would include your FBI records too.
8. Can my request for expungement be denied?
Even though your case may qualify, the State reserves the right to object granting the expungement. Each case is handled differently and qualification isn’t a guarantee that it’ll be accepted.
9. How will I know if my case is expunged?
In Oklahoma, you’ll need to send a request to the OSBI in order to be notified of the expungement.
10. What do I need to include in my request for expungement?
Your Petition for Expungement or Order of Dismissal and/or Expungement request to the OSBI needs to include:
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Crimes You are Charged With
- Date of Arrest
- Disposition (End Result) of the Arrest and Charges
11. What is Section 18 and Section 991(c) expungement?
Section 18 expungement allows a petitioner to seal their entire arrest record. In contrast, Section 991(c) expungement allows an individual who successfully completed a deferred sentence to expunge their court records. However, Section 991(c) will not remove the arrest record.
12. How long does it take to remove a criminal record?
It can take about a month after the OSBI receives a certified copy of the order for the process to begin. The expungement process can take up to a month as well.
13. Do I need a lawyer to get an expungement?
It’s recommended that individuals obtain a lawyer to complete the expungement process. OSBI “strongly suggests you get a lawyer to advise you of the proper actions to take. If you decide to represent yourself, the court will hold you to the same standards for knowing and following the applicable law as it would an attorney.” Each petition requires specific paperwork, a notice and other legal requirements.
If you’re ready to start your petition for expungement, reach out to our team today at (405) 701-6376. Or, continue your research by downloading our FREE guide on how to improve your chances of criminal expungement.