Oklahoma’s reputation as a tough-on-crime, law-and-order state has taken some hits lately. In 2016, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved State Questions 780 and 781, two criminal justice reform measures that significantly reduced the penalties for drug possession and property crimes. In June 2018, voters approved State Question 788, legalizing medical marijuana and substantially decriminalizing marijuana possession for persons in possession of 1.5 ounces or less who “can state a medical condition.”
An underappreciated area, though, where Oklahoma law is decidedly less punitive than people might expect involves expungements.
Oklahoma law authorizes fourteen categories of persons to petition a court for an order expunging and sealing the records of their arrest and prosecution.
These categories include persons who were acquitted at trial, who had their conviction reversed on appeal, who established their factual innocence through DNA evidence, or who received a pardon from the Governor on the basis of actual innocence. Admittedly, few defendants fall into these categories.
However, the law also allows expungements for people who pled guilty and successfully completed probation in a broad range of circumstances.
The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement—that means when you hire a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate a resolution to your case, they need to be thinking about whether or not the deal you get will allow you to expunge the case when probation is over.
With a decade of experience in Oklahoma criminal defense, I know the case isn’t over when my client pleads or starts probation, even if I’ve been able to secure an exceptional plea agreement.
I believe the case is over when the client is able to put it completely behind them and move on like it never happened.
That’s why I start thinking about expungement eligibility from the moment the client enters my office.
If you’re facing criminal charges in Oklahoma and want a lawyer who can not only guide you through the courts but help you seal and expunge the records when the case is over, contact Ball Morse Lowe today at 405-701-5355.