You may have heard an old urban legend about criminal convictions dropping off your criminal record after a certain number of years. Seven years? Ten years? Is it less for a misdemeanor? When you’re applying for jobs and housing, any amount of years can seem like an eternity for a conviction to remain on your record.
But if you’re relying on the urban myth to help clear your record without any action on your part, we’ve got some bad news: Criminal records don’t automatically disappear after a period of time.
In order for your record to be wiped clean (or sealed from the view of potential employers or landlords), you must apply for and receive an expungement.
Who is eligible for expungement in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, you could qualify for expungement if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You’ve been acquitted.
- Your conviction was reversed by an appeals court.
- DNA evidence exonerated you.
- The governor pardoned you.
- You were arrested, but prosecutors never filed charges against you.
- The charges were dismissed.
- You were charged with a misdemeanor or certain nonviolent felony offenses and completed a successful deferment program — as long as you don’t have another pending charge against you and one year has passed since your conviction.
There are other circumstances in which you could be eligible for expungement.
How do you apply for expungement in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, applying for an expungement is pretty complicated. You are free to file your own paperwork, but it’s not recommended. Even the state Bureau of Investigations recommends that you get an experienced lawyer to help you sort through the documents and ensure you have everything you need.
The expungement process in Oklahoma goes something like this:
- File an expungement request at the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where charges were filed against you.
- Submit copies of your expungement request to the District Attorney’s Office, the law enforcement agency that arrested you, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations.
- Go before a judge for a hearing to discuss your case and answer questions from the judge.
- The judge will decide whether to grant your expungement and seal some or all of your arrest and/or conviction records.
It’s important to note that even if your record is expunged, law enforcement will still be able to see your file and use it against you if you’re charged with another crime.
Don’t let a misstep get in the way of you and a clean record. Contact Jacui Ford’s office today for help.