Generally speaking, there are two types of expungements, described in state law in 22 O.S. §991c and 22 O.S. §§18 and 19.
A 22 O.S. §991c is the most common and the easiest to achieve. That statute holds an expungement will be granted if the individual completed all of the conditions of a deferred sentence.
Yes, that is literally all they have to do, thanks to the new law. However, it should be noted that the individual is only entitled to have the initial verdict or plea of guilty/nolo contedere expunged. Here’s what it looks like if an individual’s record is expunged under 22 O.S. §991c:
- All references to the defendant’s name shall be deleted from the docket sheet;
- The public index of the filing of the charge shall be expunged by deletion, mark-out, or obliteration;
- Upon expungement, the court clerk shall keep a separate confidential index of case numbers and names of defendants which have been obliterated pursuant to the provisions of this section;
- No information concerning the confidential file shall be revealed or released, except upon written order of a judge of the district court or upon written request by the named defendant to the court clerk for the purpose of updating the defendant’s criminal history record with the OSBI; and
- Defendants qualifying under Section 18 of this title may petition the court to have the filing of the indictment and the dismissal expunged from the public index and docket sheet. This section shall not be mutually exclusive of Section 18 of this title.
In simpler terms, an expungement pursuant to 22 O.S. §991c does not clear a defendant’s record regarding any arrest that may have led to the charges and deferred sentence. The relief granted pursuant to 22 O.S. §991c refers exclusively to court records and the verdict or plea of guilty or no contest. Successful completion of a deferred sentence does not authorize the expungement of criminal arrest records.
Expungements of court records pursuant to 22 O.S. §991c require only that a defendant successfully meet all conditions of his sentence. Expungements of arrest records (22 O.S. §§18 and 19), however, require that an individual meet one of twelve specific qualifications in order to be entitled to petition the court for expungement. The statutory requirements under §18 follow :
- The person has been acquitted;
- The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the district attorney subsequently dismissed the charge;
- The factual innocence of the person was established by the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence subsequent to conviction, including a person who has been released from prison at the time innocence was established;
- The person has received a full pardon on the basis of a written finding by the Governor of actual innocence for the crime for which the claimant was sentenced;
- The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;
- The person was under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the offense was committed and the person has received a full pardon for the offense;
- The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence;
- The person was charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least two (2) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
- The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, as set forth in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
- The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction;
- The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, as defined in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction; or
- The person has been charged or arrested or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used the person’s name or other identification without the person’s consent or authorization.
For purposes of this act, “expungement” shall mean the sealing of criminal records. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of this section shall be sealed to the public, but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11 of this section shall be admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without the necessity of a court order requesting the unsealing of said records.
For your information, here’s how the new expungement laws enacted by HB2609 will be different from the previous version of the law:
- Reduce the wait time for the expungement of a misdemeanor deferred sentence to one year, from two years.
- Allows for the expungement of multiple misdemeanors or felonies, so long as they “arise out of the same transaction or occurrence.”
- Allows for the expungement of more than one misdemeanor conviction, after ten years have passed from the latest conviction.
- Allows for the expungement of a felony conviction, even after a misdemeanor conviction, so long as the misdemeanor conviction occurred over fifteen years ago and the felony conviction over ten years ago (people believe this will be the biggest influx the courts will see).
- Allows for the expungement of Pardon & Parole Board records, which were previously unexpungeable and served as permanent remnants of the expungement of any felony conviction.