A new law goes into effect November 1st of this year. The measure significantly alters expungement procedure and eligibility. Oklahoma House Bill 3091 was approved by Governor Mary Fallin on May 4th of this year and has been met by mixed emotions from attorneys and Oklahoman residents alike.
First things first: What is an expungement?
When a person is arrested in Oklahoma, various records are made concerning the incident. These include arrest records by the arresting agency, police reports, filing records by the court, records made and held by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and any imprisonment records by the Department of Corrections. This information is public information. It may be viewed by present and future employers, educational institutions and by police officers and district attorneys, should future incidents occur. Because of the potential negative effects this can have on future employment, educational endeavors and legal relations, many people choose to file for an expungement to essentially wipe that record from their file.
There are different categories of expungments based upon the particular record seeking to be removed. Oklahoma has two main types, with heartwarmingly whimsical names: The Section 18 and the 991c.
The Section 18 expungement is generally seen as more desirable because it completely wipes out arrest, court and OSBI records. If this type of expungement is granted, employers and schools will no longer be able to view those records, even if they pay for a professional background check.
A 991c expungement is preferable for many situations and is easier to obtain. If a person pleads guilty subject to a deferred sentence, their record will reflect the guilty plea. Upon the satisfactory completion of the deferred sentence according to its terms, a 991c expungement will change the court record from showing a guilty plea to showing a plea of not guilty along with the dismissal of the case, thereby effectively eliminating a conviction from the court records.
The new law will change the eligibility requirements for both of these types of expungements. This will make some qualified to file for an expungement when they would not have been able to before. Others may lose their eligibility. In a few situations, the practical result of the measure will be that people have a limited time to file before the law takes effect.
To determine which type of expungement is right for you and if you qualify for one or the other, it is important that you contact an attorney. Both Drew Nichols and Rebekah Taylor are former Assistant District Attorneys and have extensive experience in the criminal and expungement areas. If you have questions or want to find out more information regarding expungements or criminal law, contact the Nichols Law Firm at 405-217-4118.