Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1

New Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1, 2016

Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1

The term “expungement” means that a person’s arrest or conviction is “sealed” or erased from their public record.[1] There are two different types of expungement Once a full expungement is granted, a person usually does not need to reveal or answer any question concerning that arrest or charge. However, this does not mean that an arrest or a conviction is completely erased from all records; an expungement remains an integral part of an individual’s criminal record and readily accessible by criminal courts, government agencies, and law enforcement. Depending on what background service provider a potential employer or landlord uses to conduct a background check of a person’s criminal record, the record could be inaccurate if they did not update to show an expungement was granted.  One should keep a certified copy of the Order of Expungement for life in case it is ever an issue.

On November 1, 2016, the revised statute went into effect:

Persons authorized to file a motion for expungement, as provided herein, must be within one of the following categories:

  1. The person has been acquitted;
  2. The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the prosecuting agency subsequently dismissed the charge;
  3. The factual innocence of the person was established by the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence subsequent to conviction, including a person who has been released from prison at the time innocence was established;
  4. The person has received a full pardon on the basis of a written finding by the Governor of actual innocence for the crime for which the claimant was sentenced;
  5. The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested, are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;
  6. The person was under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the offense was committed and the person has received a full pardon for the offense;
  7. The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence;
  8. The person was charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;
  9. The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
  10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a fine of less than Five Hundred One Dollars ($501.00) without a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence, the fine has been paid or satisfied by time served in lieu of the fine, the person has not been convicted of a felony, and no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person;
  11. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a suspended sentence or a fine in an amount greater than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), the person has not been convicted of a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the end of the last misdemeanor sentence;
  12. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other felony, the person has not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last fifteen (15) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the felony conviction;
  13. The person was convicted of not more than two nonviolent felony offenses, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for both of the nonviolent felony offenses, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least twenty (20) years have passed since the last misdemeanor or felony conviction; or
  14. The person has been charged or arrested or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used the person’s name or other identification without the person’s consent or authorization.
  15. For purposes of this act, “expungement” shall mean the sealing of criminal records, as well as any public civil record, involving actions brought by and against the State of Oklahoma arising from the same arrest, transaction or occurrence.
  16. For purposes of seeking an expungement under the provisions of paragraph 10, 11, 12 or 13 of subsection A of this section, offenses arising out of the same transaction or occurrence shall be treated as one conviction and offense.
  17. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of subsection A of this section shall be sealed to the public but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of subsection A of this section shall be admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without the necessity of a court order requesting the unsealing of the records. Records expunged pursuant to paragraph 4, 6, 12 or 13 of subsection A of this section may also include the sealing of Pardon and Parole Board records related to an application for a pardon. Such records shall be sealed to the public but not to the Pardon and Parole Board.

In June 2016, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2397, which amended several sections of the prior Expungement of Criminal Records statute. These new amendments primarily focus on changing the wait times for expungement records (which depend on the sentence), separating out misdemeanor fines from misdemeanor suspended and jail sentences, and removing misdemeanor convictions from the expungement analysis regarding deferred sentences.

The amendments did the following:  

  • Allow expungement for a person convicted of a misdemeanor, if the offense/fine was less than $501 and the person served no term of imprisonment or suspended sentence.
  • Allow expungement for two felony convictions, after a Governor’s pardon and 20 years has passed;
  • Allow expungement of civil records relating to the underlying criminal arrest;
  • Prospectively, limit the listing of date of birth records and social security numbers on court documents;
  • Will make expunged DNA records inadmissible in future prosecutions;
  • Notify the “Prosecuting Agency” instead of the “District Attorney;”
  • No longer disqualify deferred sentence expungements for misdemeanor convictions

The changes above are not an exhaustive list of amendments to the law, but the most relevant, in our opinion. For a final version of the bill signed by the Governor, please view it here

If you have questions about how the new law impacts your ability to seek an expungement in Oklahoma, please contact our office for a consultation.

[1] Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 18(B).

[2] Id.

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