Your 2023-2024 FAQ for Expunging a Record in Oklahoma

Your 2023-2024 FAQ for Expunging a Record in Oklahoma

Everyone makes mistakes. At the time, you’re probably not thinking about the consequences of having an arrest or conviction on your record. But when you apply for a job or try to rent an apartment, those mistakes can come back to haunt you. Expungement can help you wipe the slate clean – but it isn’t always well understood. Here are some common questions you might need answered about expungement.

How Do I Know If Something Is on My Record?

If you were convicted of a crime in the state of Oklahoma, that crime will most likely be on your record. Absent a conviction, even a deferred sentence- which results in a dismissal rather than a conviction, may be on your record if you have never had your arrest record expunged. You can easily search the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) to find information on both civil and criminal cases, including outcomes. However, this isn’t your official criminal record. That’s maintained by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), along with your fingerprints.

To know for sure what’s on your record, you’ll need to make a request through OSBI’s Criminal History Information Request Portal (CHIRP). Under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, anyone can make these requests for a $15 fee. OSBI will then send your criminal history, including:

  • Fingerprints
  • Mugshot
  • Arrest records
  • Warrants
  • Sex offender status

Can I Expunge My Record?

In many cases, you can expunge your record if: (1) the crime was non-violent, (2) you have no pending charges, and (3) you’ve paid all of your court fees and fines. But it isn’t always that straightforward – it also depends on your criminal history and the punishment you were given.

Misdemeanors where you received a deferred sentence are the easiest to expunge. You’ll receive a partial expungement automatically and can get a full expungement 1 year after you complete your sentence. If your sentence was suspended or you served jail time, you’ll have to wait 5 years.

You can also expunge non-violent felonies that don’t require you to be added to the sex offender registry. Typically, you can expunge these crimes if five years have passed since you completed your sentence and 7 years have passed since you were charged with any misdemeanors. If you have a prior conviction for a felony, you’ll have to wait 10 years since you completed your sentence for the most recent felony.

You can’t expunge violent felonies, no matter how much time has passed. What qualifies as a violent crime in Oklahoma may surprise you, so you should still talk to an attorney even if you think you might not be eligible for expungement.

You also can’t expunge civil cases, because expungement only applies to your criminal record. Common civil cases include eviction, bankruptcy, small claims, and personal injury. These judgments against you can still negatively affect your life – for example, an eviction can impact your ability to rent an apartment – and unfortunately, they can’t be expunged.

How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Record?

The entire expungement process can take anywhere from 60-120 days, depending on how quickly the court is able to hear your case. First, you’ll file a Petition for Expungement with OSBI. You’ll need to include things like the date of your arrest, the charges, and the disposition (the outcome), so it can take some time to gather all the information. Once OSBI receives your petition, they’ll schedule a hearing for 30 days later. That gives you time to notify the appropriate parties.

At your hearing, the judge will decide whether to approve your expungement. If approved, they’ll order your records to be removed from public view. It usually takes OSBI about a month to remove the records once they receive the order. Note this process can take longer if the court system is backed up and it takes more than 30 days to schedule your hearing.

How Much Does It Cost to Expunge My Record?

It usually costs about $1,500- $2,000 to expunge your record. There is a $150 fee to file the petition with OSBI, and court fees will cost you about $175. Plus, you might need to pay other fees if your case requires multiple agencies, districts, and sign-offs. You’ll also want to hire an experienced expungement attorney, as the process can be complex and all applicants are held to the same high standards, regardless of whether they’ve been educated on the law and process or not. Complicated expungements, like a felony case after a prior felony conviction, might cost up to $5,000 because the process is more involved.

Will My Fingerprints Still Be on Record?

Yes – your fingerprints will remain on record, because expungement orders don’t destroy physical records. However, they’ll only be on record as information that can be used to identify you, for example if you commit a new crime and leave fingerprints at the scene. They’ll no longer be attached to your criminal record at the state level.

Will My FBI Record Also Be Expunged?

Expungement only applies to state-level criminal records maintained by OSBI and OSCN. If your criminal record is also in the FBI database, it won’t be expunged. While employers and landlords typically don’t have access to this database, law enforcement agencies do. That means if you’re arrested and the police run your fingerprints through the FBI database, they could still find your expunged crime and use it to enhance your punishment.

Can I Expunge Multiple Cases at the Same Time?

Yes, as long as all of your cases meet the eligibility criteria and happened in the same county, you can request to expunge them all at once. If your cases occurred in different counties, you’ll need to file a petition for each county.

Will an Expungement Give Me Back My Rights?

An expungement has plenty of benefits, like making it easier to get a job and housing, but it won’t restore any rights you’ve lost. If you were convicted of a felony or of misdemeanor domestic assault and battery, you’ll lose your right to own a gun. Felons also lose the right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for public office – and an expungement will not give you those rights back. The only way to restore your gun and voting rights is through a pardon.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get an Expungement?

You should have an experienced expungement lawyer on your side. While you can technically go through the process on your own, just as you can defend yourself in a criminal case if you want to, it isn’t recommended. Even the OSBI website says that the agency “strongly suggests” those seeking expungement get a lawyer, because “the court will hold you to the same standards for knowing and following the applicable law as it would an attorney.”

The Bottom Line

An expungement can change your life, allowing you to legally deny that you have a criminal record to employers, landlords, and more. With a qualified attorney on your side to help make the process as quick and painless as possible, it’s even more worth it. Have more questions? Want to get the process started? Contact the Tulsa Expungement Guy today for a free case evaluation.