Criminal defense lawyers hear it all the time, “My lawyer told me my case would be expunged automatically when it was over! Why is the arrest record still popping up on background checks?”
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion among the public about how Oklahoma expungements work.
Unlike in criminal cases, where the state bears the burden of proving a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, expungement cases are civil, and the burden is switched: instead of the government having to prove you aren’t eligible for expungement, you have to prove you are eligible.
And while some courts do automatically expunge the court records generated by a criminal case, courts can never, under any circumstances, automatically expunge the arrest record.
If you want a complete expungement of both the court and arrest records in your case, or of any other associated record, you have the affirmative obligation to file a civil petition to expunge your records.
The first step in finding out whether you’re eligible for expungement is always going to be examining Oklahoma’s criminal expungement statute, 22 O.S. 18, to find out if you fall into one of the 14 categories of cases eligible for expungement. A few of those categories are:
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.
What’s the next step?
It’s always best to get advice from an attorney when trying to figure out whether you’re eligible for an expungement. Because even if you are 100% eligible, it won’t happen automatically. You will still need to file a civil petition, in the right format, and serve it on the appropriate parties.
If you’re in need of a criminal defense attorney, we have the best in lawyers in Oklahoma for expungement cases.
You can continue your research on expungement by downloading our FREE ebook on how to improve your chances for a successful petition. Or, give us a call to schedule your consultation at 405-701-6376.