1. How the Oklahoma criminal conviction expungement process works

An expungement is a form of post-conviction relief authorized by Oklahoma law that allows you to seal your court record or arrest record. Upon receiving an order of expungement, the actions “shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all criminal justice agencies may properly reply, upon any inquiry in the matter, that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists with respect to such person.” 

Expungements are beneficial for securing or maintaining employment, housing and educational opportunities and can offer a “fresh start” from an otherwise criminal past.

1.1. Who is eligible to get an Oklahoma expungement?

As a basic rule, Oklahoma Law authorizes an expungement for a misdemeanor or expungement for a felony offense (most but not all) provided you:

  1. successfully completed the terms of your probation (either felony probation or misdemeanor probation), 
  2. you have paid all of your court fees
  3. the statutorily required amount of time has passed, and
  4. you are not currently:

1.2. Who is NOT eligible to get an Oklahoma expungement?

As noted above, all misdemeanors and most felonies have the potential to be expunged as long as certain requirements and time restrictions have been met.

However, there are also certain felony offenses that can never be expunged under current Oklahoma Law. These include serious sex offenses committed against children, and the following convictions:

1.3. How long do I have to wait to get an expungement?

1. Immediate expungements are available for completed deferred sentences or misdemeanor suspended sentences with a fine of $500 or less.

2. Five years from the completion of a misdemeanor sentence with a fine of more than $500, or from the completion of most suspended nonviolent felony sentences.

3. Ten years from the completion of not more than two felony offenses as long as they are not listed in 1.2 above.

1.4. How has recent legislation affected expungements?

Thanks to recently enacted legislation many convicted felons are now eligible to receive a fresh start through an expungement. Expungements are a very political issue and this opportunity may not last long. If you think you might qualify for an expungement, then please speak with an attorney in our office at your earliest convenience.

The process to obtain an expungement contains many steps that a competent attorney can assist you with. This is meant to be a general outline of the expungement process.  Each case is different and it is important that you contact an attorney before making a decision as to your eligibility.

2. How do I expunge a criminal record in Oklahoma?

Expunging criminal records in Oklahoma requires the following five steps:

2.1: Hire an experienced expungement attorney.

The expungement process is confusing and time- and paperwork-intensive. There are many opportunities for error that could get an application denied. But experienced expungement attorneys know how to streamline the process and get it right on the first try.

2.2: Complete a formal petition for expungement.

It is imperative that you hire an attorney that knows which forms and laws to cite for your particular situation. Otherwise, there is a good chance that your petition will be denied.

Also note that you must fill out one petition for each conviction to be expunged, unless they all occurred in the same county. 

2.3: File your petition for expungement.

Once the proper forms are filled out, they must be filed with the court where the case was heard. The court will then set a date for a hearing.

Timely filing paperwork is critical. For example, you must provide the prosecutor with at least 30 days’ notice prior to the hearing. This is to give the prosecutor an opportunity to review the case and object if desired.

Notice of the hearing must also be given to the arresting agency, the OSBI and any other person or agency that the court believes may have relevant information.

2.4: Prepare for your expungement hearing.

Whether you have to appear at your expungement hearing depends on the case. Your criminal defense attorney will keep you informed and help prepare for the hearing if necessary.

Ultimately, the judge makes the decision whether to grant an expungement. There is no jury. You are more likely to get an expungement if you:

2.5: Persuade the judge to sign your order of expungement.

The judge will grant your order to expunge if you meet all the legal requirements and the judge decides that the harm to your privacy outweighs the public interest in keeping the records available. 

If the judge grants the expungement, your attorney should then seal the case so it is no longer visible to the public and  notify all relevant agencies. And you can deny ever having a criminal record in most situations. 

3. Frequently Asked Questions about Oklahoma Expungement Law

Q. What is an expungement?

A. Expungements allow you to seal your court record or arrest record.  This prevents the public from having access to the information.

Q. Do I need a lawyer to get an expungement?

A. There are specific paperwork, notice, and legal requirements necessary in order to successfully petition for an expungement of your arrest records.  The OSBI strongly suggests you get a lawyer to advise you of the proper actions to take.  If you decide to represent yourself, the court will hold you to the same standards for knowing and following the applicable law as it would an attorney.

Q. What happens when I expunge my record?

A. Under Oklahoma law, an order granting an expungement causes the underlying incident to be deemed never to have occurred. Employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, officials, and employees shall not, in any application or interview or otherwise, require an applicant to disclose any information contained in sealed records.

Q. How long does it take to expunge my record?

A. Generally, the process can be completed in 30-45 days. But this can vary depending on the county in which you reside.

In cases where you are actively seeking employment, we can seek to expedite the process.

Q. How do I find out if I qualify to have my record expunged?

A. We offer a free confidential case evaluation to determine if you qualify for an expungement.  Simply call our office at your convenience to discuss  your case.

Q. What is the difference between a Section 18 and Section 991(c) expungement?

A. A Section 18 expungement allows a person to expunge their entire arrest record.  A Section 991(c) expungement allows a person who received a deferred sentence to expunge their plea, and have the disposition of their case updated to show the case has been dismissed.  The disposition will say, “pled not guilty, case dismissed”.  However, a 991(c) expungement will not expunge (remove) the arrest record.

Q. If I have multiple arrests to be expunged, do I have to file each arrest separately?

A. Multiple arrests in the same county can be filed for in one petition, however, a separate petition must be filed for each county where a person has records they want expunged.

Q. Is it possible to have more than one felony expunged?

A. Yes. Oklahoma law allows you to have two felonies expunged.

Q. Do I have to appear in court?

A. Generally not.  The Oklahoma expungement process typically allows a lawyer to appear on your behalf through all stages of the proceedings.

Q. How much does it cost for an Oklahoma expungement?

A. It varies, depending on the county in which you reside, and whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. However, we offer a free case evaluation, and at the end of your case evaluation we will tell you if you qualify, and then quote you a flat fee that includes all filing fees and expenses. Our fees are very reasonable and we even offer payment plans.

Q. How will I know that my Oklahoma criminal record was expunged?

A. We provide you with a signed order by an Oklahoma District Court Judge and send the signed order to all relevant parties and agencies.

Q. After my record is expunged, can I answer “No” if I’m asked whether I have a criminal record?

A. Yes. This is one of the benefits of obtaining an Oklahahoma expungement. Under Oklahoma law the “actions shall be deemed never to have occurred”.

Q. Will expunging my record help me find a better job?

A. Many times, yes.  Under Oklahoma law you no longer have to disclose any expunged conviction to an employer. 

After you have had your criminal record expunged, sealed, set aside or otherwise cleared by the court, private background check companies may still be reporting your criminal record to potential employers or landlords. To help solve this problem, we help clear your criminal records by notifying 10 largest private background check companies of your expungement.

Q. I was arrested in another state. Can you expunge that?

A. An arrest in another state cannot be expunged by Oklahoma courts. To expunge records in a state other than Oklahoma, you will need to contact an attorney in that particular state.

Q. What is a partial expungement?

A. A partial expungement is an expungement that occurs at the end of a deferred sentence, if you are successful with your probation. This removes the case from OSCN, making it harder for people to find, but the arrest record will remain and it will still show up on background checks.

Q. What is the difference between a pardon and an expungement??

A. A pardon is an act of forgiveness that can be requested by a person for a specific crime, but it does not seal the arrest or court record—that can only be done with an expungement. However, once a pardon has been granted, a person can petition for an expungement and get records sealed.

Q. How do I get started on an expungement??

A. Call our office at 918-253-2400 for a free case evaluation.