Guide to Expunging an Aggravated Assault in Oklahoma
One of the most common questions criminal attorneys are asked is how their clients can clear their records. This is called an expungement and the answer is usually that it depends—on the length of time that has passed, the type of crime you were convicted for, and whether anyone objects to your expungement. If you’re asking, “Can aggravated assault be expunged?,” the answer may seem like a straightforward “no.” But the definition of this crime can be confusing, and there is a path to clearing your record. Let’s dive in.
What Is a Violent Felony in Oklahoma?
Whether aggravated assault can be expunged goes back to the laws around expunging violent crimes. In short, violent felonies cannot be expunged in Oklahoma. But what is a violent felony? It isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think. Sometimes, violent felonies are what you’d expect: crimes that physically harm or scare another person, like:
- First- and second-degree murder
- First- and second-degree manslaughter
- Poisoning, shooting, or assaulting with the intent to kill
- Robbery, armed robbery, or robbery with an imitation weapon
- All types of rape except statutory
- Child abuse, prostitution, or pornography
- Human trafficking
- Certain types of domestic abuse
- Certain types of assault and battery
Other crimes have been classified as violent felonies because the state wants to deter people from committing them. These crimes can differ from the popular perception of “violent behavior” and might not necessarily include physical harm or fear, like:
- First- or second-degree burglary
- Inciting or participating in a riot
- Arson and burning public buildings
- Eluding a police officer
- Aggravated drug trafficking
If you commit a felony that’s classified as non-violent—for example, certain drug charges, embezzlement, and concealing stolen property—then expungement is likely an option. But the first step in expunging your record Oklahoma is knowing whether or not your crime was a violent felony.
What Is Aggravated Assault and Battery in Oklahoma?
There is no charge in Oklahoma called “aggravated assault and battery.” Instead this is used as an umbrella term for a group of more specific charges, including:
- Assault and Battery with Great Bodily Injury: When harm you inflict causes bone breaks, disfigurement, lost or impaired body parts, organs, or mental abilities, and substantial risk of death, it qualifies as “great bodily injury.”
- Assault and Battery on a Decrepit Individual: This is when assault is committed by a healthy person against a weaker person, for example the sick or elderly.
- Assault and Battery with a Dangerous or Deadly Weapon: A dangerous or deadly weapon is an item like a baseball bat, vehicle, bottle, knife, brass knuckles, and similar. It’s a weapon that’s likely to cause great bodily injury or death.
- Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Sheriff, Highway Patrolman, or Any Other Officer of the Law: Assaulting an officer of the law is automatically a felony, even if you don’t cause bodily harm.
Difference Between “Aggravated” and Misdemeanor Assault and Battery
Assault and battery can also be a misdemeanor in Oklahoma, adding another layer of complexity to expungement cases. Misdemeanors might include:
- Making threats to harm someone
- Attempting to harm someone
- Actually harming someone (without the use of weapon)
- Many types of domestic violence
The main difference between felony and misdemeanor assault and battery is the level of harm done to the other person and the intent behind the crime. If you don’t cause great bodily injury, use a weapon, or attack individuals that fall into one of the specialized categories, your crime may be a misdemeanor.
While they sound severe, misdemeanor charges usually result in a lighter punishment than felonies, and they can be expunged. First- and second-time non-violent felonies can also be expunged. This is undoubtedly a complicated topic—to help explain whether your crime can be expunged, check out this infographic.
Can Aggravated Assault Be Expunged in Oklahoma?
The short answer is no—aggravated assault can’t be expunged in Oklahoma. Not only that, but once you’re convicted of a violent felony like aggravated assault, you also can’t get any of your past or future charges expunged, even if they weren’t violent. Violent felonies are some of the most serious crimes you can commit, and they will follow you for life, affecting your ability to find employment, housing, and more. The only way to clear your name is to first get a pardon, which relieves you of responsibility for your crime.
How to Clear Your Record of Aggravated Assault and Battery Charges
A pardon is an order from the state or federal government that releases you from the legal consequences of your crime. When you’re pardoned, you’ll get back your right to own a firearm, vote, and run for office. You can also then have your record expunged in a separate process. Here’s how it works.
Obtain a Pardon
In Oklahoma, like in many states, only the governor can grant a pardon, and you’ll first need to submit an application and go before the Pardon and Parole Board. Be sure to fill out your application correctly and include any additional attachments, like your Certified Judgment and Sentence, a credit report, and verification that you have a place to live and are employed.
If your application is accepted, you’ll be scheduled for an in-person hearing with the Board, where you’ll be able to make a short argument for your case. Retaining a pardon lawyer can be especially helpful for this phase. After your hearing, the Board will decide whether to grant your pardon. If they decide in your favor, their decision is then sent to the governor for final approval. Even if the Board recommends a pardon, it isn’t officially granted until the governor signs off. The good news is that the governor usually follows the recommendation of the Board.
Expunge Your Record
Only after the crime is pardoned can aggravated assault be expunged in Oklahoma—but you’ll also need to meet additional criteria to be eligible for expungement, including:
- You’ve paid all your court costs, fines, and restitution
- You have no other violent felony convictions
- You have no pending charges for felonies or misdemeanors
To start the process to expunge a record in Oklahoma, you’ll want to hire an attorney. They can help you make sure you qualify for an expungement, fill out your application correctly, and submit the paperwork to the right people. (The list is long: The law enforcement agency, court clerk, district attorney, and judge involved in your case, as well as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.) They can also help you make your case at a hearing, which will be called if anyone objects to your expungement.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been convicted of aggravated assault and battery in Oklahoma, you may have a long road ahead to clear your name. Aggravated assault can be expunged in Oklahoma only if you receive a pardon first. It’s a complex and nuanced process—but it isn’t impossible. An experienced attorney can help you understand the steps involved and guide you to the best possible result. Contact the Tulsa Expungement Guy today to get started.