Can I expunge an arrest that never led to criminal charges?

Can I expunge an arrest that never led to criminal charges?

Did you know that an arrest will appear on a background check, even if you were never charged with a crime? If that comes as a surprise, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves in a tough position when they apply for a job or housing and realize their arrest record popped up. Unless you expunge your arrest, it will be brought up again. Here’s how you can make sure you put it behind you for good.

Partial Expungement

A partial expungement occurs at the end of a deferred sentence, assuming you were successful on probation. This partial expungement will remove the case listing from Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) and show the case as dismissed. This means most people will have a hard time finding your case, as they won’t go through the trouble of doing a complete background search, and will instead do a simple OSCN search. A background search will still show that an arrest occurred and a case was filed, but later dismissed. To the average person, they will think this means you never plead guilty in the case at all.

This doesn’t mean that your arrest will live on forever. There is still a way to get your case removed from a background search, but it requires a full expungement.

Full Expungement

You do not need a specific type of probation or sentence to apply for a full expungement. A full expungement removes your case from background searches and removes the record of the arrest. This is true regardless of whether a case was ever filed against you. This can be highly beneficial if your employer requires that you report not only charges filed against you, but any arrest. Once your case is fully expunged, you are legally allowed to say that the arrest never happened.

Is the process different if you were never charged with a crime?

Not necessarily. You still have to go through the full expungement process, just like you would if you had been charged. The only difference is that the State can still file charges based on an arrest if the statute of limitations hasn’t passed. In essence, while you were not originally charged with a crime, the State can change its mind and charge you, up until a certain time.

So, if you are applying for a full expungement and the statute of limitations has not passed, you have the added requirement of showing that the State does not intend to file charges. Typically, you can prove this by simply having your lawyer ask the prosecuting attorney in writing if they intend to file (or, in some instances, refile) charges. If the prosecuting attorney says no, then you can attach that reply to your expungement application to show that the State does not intend to file charges based on that arrest. If the State indicates they do intend to file charges you will most likely not be successful on an application for expungement.

Why would I want to expunge an arrest record?

An arrest will still appear on a background search, even if it never resulted in criminal charges. This can limit your opportunities for jobs and housing. Additionally, if you are ever charged with a crime in the future, it can be considered by the prosecution in determining your plea deal. While it wouldn’t have a direct affect on how long you can be punished, prosecutors can factor anything in your criminal history when creating a plea offer. This includes former arrests that have not resulted in criminal charges.

The Bottom Line

Not only can you expunge an arrest that never led to criminal charges, you should. While the arrest may not appear on OSCN searches, it will appear on background checks, and it could prevent you from obtaining the job or housing you want. Getting your arrest record expunged can be almost as important as expunging actual charges from your criminal record.