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Everything You Need to Know about Expunging Your Criminal Record

Introduction


Having a criminal record can cast a shadow on your life, limiting your opportunities and hindering your personal growth. Fortunately, the state of Oklahoma offers individuals with past convictions a chance to start anew through the process of expungement. The steps to expunging your record are:

In this blog article, we will provide a guide to help you navigate the process of getting your criminal record expunged in Oklahoma.



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Step. 1: Determine Eligibility


Before starting the expungement process, it's crucial to determine if you are eligible for expungement under Oklahoma law. Eligibility criteria vary depending on the type of offense, the length of time since the conviction, and whether you have fulfilled all the requirements of your sentence.


Get a Background Check


To determine your eligibility, you should get a background check through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's Criminal History Information Request Portal (CHIRP). This will show you what arrest records, charges, and convictions. It's also important that you don't have any warrants for your arrest. Having an arrest warrant will prevent you from expunging your record. The cost for a background check is between $15-$17 depending on your search criteria.


Determine if Your Offense is Eligible for Expungement


Once you know what criminal records you have, the next step is determining if they are expungable. Many offenses have a waiting period after the date of conviction or sentencing before they are expungable. You must have all fines (including court and administrative costs) paid along with any sentencing requirements (e.g., conditions of deferred or delayed sentence, probation requirements, etc.).


IMPORTANT NOTE: You must have all fines (including court and administrative costs) paid along with any sentencing requirements (e.g., conditions of deferred or delayed sentence, probation requirements, etc.).


Make Sure You Don't Have an Arrest Warrant


There's no state-wide database to search for arrest warrants. Some warrants can be found by searching your name on the Oklahoma State Court Network (OSCN) website. The Tulsa Police Department website allows you to search municipal and county records. The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office has a similar online warrant search tool, or you can call the City of Oklahoma City's Warrant Office to check for a warrant. Check with your city or county to find out if you have a warrant.


Step 2: File a Petition for Expungement


Once you've determined your eligibility, the next step is to complete the expungement petition. This legal document must be filed in the district court of the county where the conviction occurred or where the arrest took place. The petition must include specific details, such as:

  1. Your name and address;

  2. Details of the arrest, charge, and/or conviction, including the case number, offense or charge, conviction, and disposition of the case. You can find most of this information on OSCN.

  3. Name and address of the arresting and prosecuting agency, correctional facility, and other law enforcement agencies involved in your case.

  4. Reasons for requesting expungement and supporting arguments.

  5. Documentation supporting your eligibility, such as court records showing the charge, sentence, and disposition of the case. You can get most records from OSCN. If the records are not online, you can ask for them at the court house at the court clerk's desk.

You will need file-stamped copies of the Petition to send to all the relevant agencies that you named in your Petition. When in doubt, send the agency a copy. It's better to include too many than too few. Failing to send a necessary agency a copy may result in your Petition getting denied. There's also a fee ($164.14 in most counties) you will need to pay when you file.


Last, you will need to take an Order Setting Hearing to the court house with you. This is a court order that a Judge will sign that schedules a date and time for your expungement hearing. Ask the court clerk for instructions on where the judge's inbox is located. You should also ask the clerk whether the court will file the order for you or if you have to come back and fit it yourself. If you are required to file it, go back to the court house after a few days to see if the Order is signed and in the judge's outbox. Then file the Order at the court clerk's desk. Make sure you get copies of the Order. You will need to send it to all the agencies where you're sent the Petition.


Step 3: Give Law Enforcement and Prosecution Notice


After filing the expungement petition, you must serve a copy to the district attorney's office that prosecuted the case, arresting agency, the corrections facility where you were imprisoned, and also to the OSBI. This ensures that all parties involved are aware of the expungement request and can respond or contest it if necessary. You will also need to send those agencies a copy of the Order Setting Hearing. This gives them notice of when they need to appear in court in case they object to the expungement. It's a good idea to mail the Petition and Order Setting Hearing by certified mail. This gives you proof that you mailed copies of the Petition and Order to the proper agencies at the correct addresses.


Step 4: Send a Proposed Order


If the court approves your expungement, you will need to have an Order Authorizing Expungement prepared for the judge to sign. The order must also be approved by the prosecuting attorney's office and the OSBI. The best way to get their approval is by sending a proposed order to their office before the hearing with a self-addressed envelope and prepaid postage on it. If they approve, they will mail you a signed copy that you can present to the judge at your hearing. The OSBI requires you to provide a copy of the Order before reviewing your request to remove your criminal records.


NOTE: The Order must contain specific language that can be hard to write without an attorney's assistance.


Step 5: Attend the Expungement Hearing


In some cases, an expungement hearing may be required to review your petition and eligibility. During the hearing, you may present your case, provide evidence of rehabilitation and good conduct, and explain why expungement is in the interest of justice. Having an experienced attorney to represent you at the hearing can be advantageous.


Step 6: Send a Copy of the Order to the Relevant Agencies


Once you have an Order Authorizing Expungement signed by a judge, make copies, and file it with the court clerk. Although not required, you should ask the clerk to certify the copies for you to ensure there are no issues later. Mail a copy of the Order to each of the agencies where you sent your Petition and Order Setting Hearing. Those agencies will not get rid of your criminal records unless they get a court order.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you keep a copy of the Order for your records. It's much harder to get a copy after the court closes the expungement case.


Step 7: Send a Criminal History Update Request to OSBI


The final step is getting your record completely expunged with the OSBI. You will need to send a Criminal History Update Request along with the $150 processing fee. Make sure you follow all the instructions on the request form.




 

* This page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship. This page contains advertisement for legal services. For more information, see our Legal Disclaimer.


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