A criminal record affects nearly every aspect of an individual's life: from eligibility to obtain a job, find housing, carry or own a firearm, and even your personal relationships.
In Oklahoma, the law provides a path to remove convictions from your criminal record. Eligibility depends on several factors, so it's important to have guidance on this. Our team of attorneys at Worden & Carbitcher are experts in expungements, taking each case with the kind of seriousness and aggression we would offer our own family members. We know your livelihood is on the line, and we believe wholeheartedly in the clients and cases we choose to take on.
What are my chances of an expungement?
It's estimated that 93.5% of expungement eligible records are unsealed. In other words, very few who are eligible for expungement are actually taking advantage of the opportunity.
That means, your chances could be really high.
With an expungement, you can finally pass a background check. Background checks are required for jobs, some housing, and certain licenses. An expungement can literally change the course of your life.
Do I really need an attorney?
While you can file a petition for expungement without an attorney, it's not recommended. The process for expungement in Oklahoma is complicated and can take several months and multiple court appearances. Additionally, the court will hold you to the same standard as they would an attorney.
While costs seem to be the biggest deterrent for those who might seek an expungement, recall that the benefits far outweigh the costs. What you may pay in the short term in legal fees is nothing compared to the income - and job - you could have without a criminal record holding you back.
Types of expungements
Section 18 Expungements:
A Section 18 Expungement completely seals your criminal record from the public's eyes. Under certain circumstances, it can still be available to law enforcement. However, it won't affect jobs, background checks, or really, any part of your life unless there are unique circumstances in which law enforcement needs to access it. These types of expungements are more difficult to obtain than the following but certainly doable.
Common qualifications for a Section 18 expungement:
- A judge or jury said you were Not Guilty of the charge
- DA dismisses the charges or an appeal court rejects that you are guilty
- A pardoning by the Governor
- You were arrested but never charged and the statute of limitations has expired
- You were convicted of a non-violent felony and it's been five years since the sentencing, and you've had no felony or misdemeanor convictions in the last 7 years.
- Your identity was stolen and you were arrested for a crime you didn't commit
- You were under 18 at the time of the crime and have been pardoned by the Governor
Section 991(c) Expungements:
These expungements are eligible in conjunction with a guilty plea. Typically, this happens when you've committed a non-violent crime and have no felonies on your record. While easier to obtain, Section 991(c) expungements do not completely erase your criminal record.
You're required to meet the court's conditions in order to have your record expunged. These may include probation, fines, court costs, and displaying good behavior (no arrests or charges) during the delay period.
These are just a few qualifications - there could be others, depending. It's important to note that if you're looking for the removal of an arrest, you must have a Section 18 expungement. Section 991(c) removes your record of the crime from the online court dockets only.
As you can see, expungements require a ton of legal knowledge and a vast understanding of the criminal court system. That's why it is highly recommended to use an attorney in any expungement petition, and in particular, an attorney with a history of successful expungement cases.
Our criminal defense attorneys at Worden & Carbitcher have over two decades of combined experience in expungements. We can help guide you through an otherwise complicated process to make it as smooth and pain-free as possible, and hopefully, remove your criminal record so that you can move on with your life, guilt-free.
Call our office at 405-360-8036 to schedule a consultation.