Have you ever wondered if it were possible to remove information off of your criminal record in Oklahoma? Or if it were somehow possible that you could ethically not disclose certain arrests or convictions that occurred a long time ago, deep in your past, while in the middle of a job interview? Do criminal records expire after a certain amount of time? Is there a statute of limitations or something?

This series of blog articles will cover these topics and answer these legal questions for you.

In this first article, we will provide an overview of how criminal records can be sealed from a person’s record and what that means exactly.

If you have been reading this blog, then you know that we have covered topics such as what information shows up on a background check. And our webpage gives an overview of the expungement process, which is the legal process for sealing your criminal record from public access.

In this article we will take a more in-depth look at what exactly it means to expunge your record in Oklahoma.

An Expungement in Oklahoma does not physically destroy the records, but merely prevents the public from accessing them

The first thing to understand is that what Oklahoma law refers to as an Expungement is commonly referred to a “record sealing” in other states. That is because Oklahoma law does not allow the Courts to order the physical destruction or obliteration of the expunged records.

What the law does allow is for a Court to order that the records be sealed from public access. The public is not able to gain access to expunged records, neither through the Open Records Act or even by the use of subpoena power in a separate lawsuit.

Further, a person who has had their record expunged may legally deny the existence of the record, and may deny that they were ever arrested or charged.

Whether physical destruction is even a worthy goal is up for debate, as basically everything is stored electronically these days. Law enforcement does have access to these records, but are legally prohibited from disclosing that information. Basically, if the information is leaked, then you have a good lawsuit on your hands against that agency.

The purpose of the government having access is because the government created the record in the first place, and for public safety, maintains access to the record in the event you were ever involved in another criminal incident. In such a case, the prosecutor would have access to the expunged information.

None of this is to say that your record is going to be regularly accessed, viewed by any government agency, and certainly will not be shared with anyone. That would be illegal, as once a record has been expunged, it must be concealed and kept confidential. Legally speaking, it never happened, and disclosure is illegal.

If you have more questions about record sealing in Oklahoma, send us an email or give us a call. You can also explore other articles on this topic on our blog.

In our next article, we will discuss the benefits of getting your Oklahoma criminal records sealed.