Getting an expungement in Muskogee can be a breath of fresh air for a person who has served their sentence. Too often, a person’s conviction can stay on their record for years, making it difficult to move forward again. But it is possible to clear a criminal record and Oklahoma laws now make it easier to move on with your life. Your Muskogee expungement lawyer will have all the details. But here are some things you might want to know about the process.
What is Expungement?
To expunge something means to erase it. Now imagine that you could erase your prior criminal record. Wouldn’t you do that if you could? It would make getting a job and an apartment much easier.
Expungement is the tool used to clear or seal a criminal record. If a person qualifies, all reference to the criminal record is sealed from public view. This includes the arrest record, the court file, and all online websites used for background checks such as On Demand Court Records (ODCR.com) and Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN). Okla. Stat. tit.22 § 18. When you clear a criminal record, it is as if the criminal record never existed at all. In fact, once an expungement is granted, if asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, it is legal to answer “no.”
How to Clear a Criminal Record?
Clearing a criminal record is a complicated process and is only available to people within the following categories:
- after acquittal; or
- an overturned and dismissed conviction; or
- innocence later proven by DNA evidence; or
- a full pardon is received based on a finding of innocence; or
- you were arrested but not charged and the time has expired for charges to be filed against you; or
- you were under 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed and you have received a full pardon. Okla. Stat. tit.22 § 18.
An expungement that clears a criminal record is difficult to qualify for and to obtain without the help of an attorney. Okla. Stat. tit.22 § 18. For example, only misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, subject to varying waiting periods, qualify for this kind of expungement. It also requires a complicated Petition that is best handled by an experienced expungement attorney.
Waiting periods can be complicated for expungements. Before the Oklahoma legislature took action to shorten the waiting time for a criminal records expungement, you had to wait ten years after completion of a felony sentence to begin the process. New legislation, passed in 2016, has shortened this time to five years in some cases.
But waiting times for convictions vary. Some misdemeanors that involve no jail time and for which the fine is under $501, may be expunged immediately. Okla. Stat. tit.22 § 18. Expungement is possible one year after completing a deferred judgment or suspended sentence on a misdemeanor charge. Okla. Stat. tit.22 § 18. It is 5 years after a conviction of a nonviolent felony with a deferred judgment or delayed sentence. These are just examples of how waiting times can vary and your attorney will be able to provide you information relevant to your situation.
The Petition is Complex
A Petition to clear a criminal record is a complex pleading that must be done correctly in order to be granted. The Petition for Expungement is filed in the court in which the record sought to be expunged, exists. A hearing is set and the Petition and the Notice of Hearing must be served upon all of the interested parties in a timely fashion to allow them time to object.
At the hearing, the court listens to each side and balances a person’s right to privacy against the public interest in knowing a person’s criminal history. If the Petition is granted the record is then sealed.
A Muskogee expungement attorney can help you move on with your life. When you need help, make sure to contact us.
Consult with a Skilled Muskogee Expungement Lawyer Today
Work with a dedicated expungement lawyer in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to ensure that you can move on with your life and protect your privacy. Your future is important. Contact your Muskogee Expungement Lawyer today at (918) 884-7774.