Oklahoma's Clean Slate Bill: How Does It Help My Case?

Oklahoma's Clean Slate Bill: How Does It Help My Case?

Everyone has regrets. But if you’ve committed a crime, those regrets can haunt you in very real ways. A criminal record can prevent you from finding employment and housing. What if you could wipe the slate clean? With expungement, you can, but according to Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, almost 94% of crimes that are eligible haven’t been expunged. That’s what Oklahoma’s Clean Slate Bill aims to change.

What Is the Clean Slate Bill?

Oklahoma’s Clean Slate Bill creates a system that will automatically expunge certain crimes. Expungement means the record of the crime will be sealed from public view. With a traditional expungement, you have to complete an application and go through a hearing process. Once the Clean Slate Bill takes effect, certain crimes will be expunged automatically, which means you won’t have to go through the application process. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) will review its records and automatically submit expungement orders for cases that qualify.

The Clean Slate Bill creates a faster expungement process, and you won’t need a lawyer if your case is automatically expunged. However, a lawyer can still help you if your case doesn’t qualify or if someone objects to your automatic expungement.

Oklahoma’s original Clean Slate Bill was signed into law in 2022 and stated that it would become effective three years later, in 2025. But the state legislature is considering another bill that makes some changes to the original. Let’s dive in by explaining the differences between the two bills.

House Bill 3316: The Original Clean Slate Bill

The bill that passed in 2022 was House Bill 3316, which was signed into law under Title 22, Section 18, Expungement of Criminal Records. A case is eligible for automatic expungement under the law when:

  1. The person was acquitted
  2. The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss, or was reversed and the prosecutor dismissed the charge
  3. The person’s innocence was established by DNA evidence
  4. The person was arrested, no charges were filed, and the statute of limitations has expired
  5. The person was under 18 at the time of the offense and has received a pardon
  6. The person was charged with crimes that have been dismissed and the statute of limitations for refiling has expired
  7. The person was charged with a misdemeanor that was dismissed following a deferred sentence and at least one year has passed since the charge was dismissed
  8. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor with a fine of less than $500 and was not sentenced to prison time
  9. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor with a fine of more than $500, was sentenced to prison or received a suspended sentence, and at least five years have passed
  10. The person was charged or arrested for a crime committed by another person using their name without their consent
  11. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony that was reclassified as a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law, and at least 30 days have passed since the completion or commutation of the sentence

If you don’t fall into the above categories, you can still file for expungement under the usual rules. The Clean Slate Bill doesn’t change the eligibility requirements for traditional expungement. You still won’t be able to expunge violent felonies, and you will still be able to expunge other crimes that aren’t automatically expunged.

If you were convicted, received a deferred sentence, or plead guilty, you’ll also have to fulfill the same requirements as you would for a traditional expungement, which typically include:

  • You’ve paid all your fines, court costs, and restitution
  • You’ve completed any court-ordered programs
  • You’ve never been convicted of a felony
  • You have no charges pending against you

House Bill 3037: Updates to the Clean Slate Bill

In 2024, the state legislature is considering House Bill 3037, which will make some amendments to the Clean Slate Bill. The biggest change is to number 9 above, which previously applied to someone who “was convicted of a misdemeanor with a fine of more than $500, was sentenced to prison or received a suspended sentence, and at least five years have passed.” The new bill would increase the fine amount to less than $1,000 and decrease the waiting period to three years.

The new rules also increase the fine amount to $1,000 for number 8 above, those who were convicted of a misdemeanor with no prison time. Finally, it adds deferred sentences to number 11, so it now reads “The person was convicted of or received a deferred sentence for a nonviolent felony” that was reclassified as a misdemeanor.

As of the writing of this article, House Bill 3037 has passed the House, but not the Senate. If the bill doesn’t pass the Senate, it won’t go into effect. Then, the original Clean Slate Bill will apply when the system comes online in a few years. That would mean the waiting period for automatic expungement of certain misdemeanors stays at five years.

What’s the Process for Automatic Expungement?

The original Clean Slate Bill also set up a process for automatic expungement of eligible cases:

  • The OSBI will search its criminal history records every month to identify eligible cases and provide a list to the prosecuting and arresting agencies.
  • The OBSI and agencies have 45 days to object to the automatic expungement for certain, specific reasons. Then the record won’t be expunged.
  • If the 45 days pass with no objections, OSBI will send the case to the court to review. The court will provide a signed expungement order.
  • Upon receipt of a signed expungement order, each agency shall seal the relevant records.
  • If you don’t receive an automatic expungement, you can still file for a traditional expungement.

Does the Clean Slate Bill Help You?

Oklahoma’s Clean Slate Bill will certainly help a lot of people. The most common cases will be if you were arrested but not charged, exonerated, or charged or convicted of a misdemeanor. In many cases there is no waiting period. In others you’ll need to wait until the statute of limitations expires, which is typically two years, or until three years have passed since you completed your sentence.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that the law states it is “subject to the availability of funds.” Oklahoma state officials have said the system may not launch until 2026. If you’re already eligible for expungement, don’t wait until the Clean Slate Bill takes effect – you can get your life back now. Not sure if you qualify? Contact the Tulsa Expungement Guy for a free case evaluation today. We can explain all the details and help you move forward.