We have been blogging a lot lately on the basics of Oklahoma Expungment law. We did a series on Background Checks and now we conclude our series on Expungement Overview.
In the first series, we first explained How to do a Background Check in Oklahoma, and then we covered all the options for retrieving someone’s criminal background information. We showed how any member of the public can access your background information, but that you can take control and keep your information private by seeking a court order of expungement. We wrapped up by showing how a Lawyer can help you clean up what the public can see on a background check. Hopefully those articles covered everything you wanted to know about background checks.
Then we published our Expungement Overview series, and we have covered a lot of ground. First, we answered the question what exactly is an expungement (it’s a court order to seal records shut from public access); then we explained the benefits of sealing your record (employers, landlords, colleges and others will not be able to discriminate based on your criminal record); and then we laid out all the eligibility requirements for expunging your Oklahoma record.
But how does the process work? How long does it take and what can you expect. You can call us and we can answer all of your questions. But let me go ahead and tackle these questions now.
This article is wraps up this series by laying out the process for sealing an Oklahoma record shut.
The procedure for sealing criminal background records in Oklahoma involves three steps
The Process for Sealing an Oklahoma record involves three steps: identifying the public records to be expunged; screening the records for eligibility; and then filing the expungement with the court.
First, you must Identify what Public Records you want sealed.
The first thing to do is identify what information you want sealed. You should start by finding out what information is out there. First, request a criminal history report from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). You can find the form online. Fill in all the information, including your name, date of birth and social security number. Then mail the form to OSBI with a check for $15.00 or fax it over with your credit/debit card information on the form.
OSBI will then send you a report on what information the state has on your criminal history. This report will show all arrests, with dates and arresting agencies (i.e. what police department made the arrest), and whether a criminal case was filed, and what was the outcome of the case (it was dismissed; or guilty plea, sentenced, etc.).
The OSBI report is the best place to start, because it is the most comprehensive search you can do. However, the OSBI report will not contain everything. It will not contain any VPO (victim protective order, i.e. domestic restraining order) cases you may have been involved in. It may alos omit certain arrests that were never reported by the municipal police department. Here is how to get that information.
For VPO cases, search online at OSCN.net, using your first and last name. For arrests, if you know the city were the arrest occurred, you can do an open records request to that city; if it was a sheriff’s office, then you must request that information from that county’s sheriff.
Once you complete all of these steps, you now know what information is out there accessible to the public. If this seems like a tedious process, don’t bother with it and have us do it for you.
Next,analyze the eligibility of those records for Expungement
Now that you’ve identified what records you want sealed, it’s time to run our analysis to see if those records qualify for expungement.
Let’s separate each item categorically into misdemeanors, felonies, arrests, and victim protective orders.
For arrests, identify whether charges were filed or if nothing happened after the arrest.
For misdemeanor charges, separate them from cases that were dismissed to ones where you pleaded guilty or no contest. If guilty, categorize them as follows: were on deferred probation; paid a fine over $500; paid a fine under $500; served jail time.
For felony cases, separate violent from non-violent felonies. Only non-violent felonies are eligible. Sometimes, this can be a gray area, so contact us and we can help you figure this out.
Non-violent felony cases may be sealed by expungement only if you received a deferred sentence, completed the probation terms, and your case was dismissed pursuant to 22 O.S. § 991c.
For more information, see this article on the details of Oklahoma expungement elibibility.
Filing your Petition for Expungement in the District Court
Now that we’ve confirmed your eligibility to have your records sealed, let’s get the process started!
We will file your petition for expungement in the county court where your arrest records are located. The petition will identify the records to be expunged, and will make a legal argument that explains why the records qualify for expungement. We will then notify the district attorney, any city prosecutor that was involved, the police force, and OSBI. We will give them a copy of the petition as well as a proposed order granting the expungement, and we will ask them to go ahead and sign off.
Normally, we are able to get the order signed without objection because we did the work in the beginning to explain how the case qualifies under the law for expungement.
If there are any objections to the expungement, we will address them immediately. Why is one party objecting? Is it based on eligibility, or something else. Once we’ve identified the issue, we will let the client know and outline a plan to address the problem.
Once your expungement is granted by the court, we will have the clerk make multiple certified copies for us. We will then send a certified copy to each agency with directions to seal records from public access.