Does it cost anything to see if I qualify for an expungement?
Absolutely not. Every person that calls my office gets a free record analysis.
How long does it take to clean up my record?
The length of time varies from person to person. If time if of the essence, a simple uncontested expungement can be done in as little as a few weeks.
But my record is already clean, right?
Is it? Obviously, felony and misdemeanor convictions will leave a black mark on your record, What many people don't realize though is that felony and misdemeanor court proceedings actually stay on your record even after the successful completion of a deferred sentence. Ever had a VPO filed against you? That goes on your record too. Ever been jailed for anything? Even if there were no charges filed, the stay in jail can show up on your record. There's a very real trend toward rampant criminalization in Oklahoma and there are many people that don't realize that their record isn't as clean as they think it is.
Why do I need to clean up my record?
For better or worse, the information age has put unprecedented amounts of data at just about everyone's fingertips. Prospective employers and landlords can look into your past with the click of a button. People are passed over for employment or denied housing every day because mistakes made long ago that have already been moved on from. Fair or not, that's the world we all live in and it's extremely important to erase blemishes on our records as soon as the law allows.
What if I'm asked about criminal proceedings on an application?
Oklahoma law (22 O.S. 19(D) states that: "Upon the entry of an order to seal the records, or any part thereof, the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all criminal justice agencies may properly reply upon any inquiry into the matter, that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists with respect to such person."
In other words. . . POOF! It never happened. If your record is expunged you get a truly clean slate.
That's great and all, but are expungements expensive?
Expungements, like any other service, can very widely in price with the degree of work that's involved in cleaning up an individual's record. That being said, simple misdemeanor expungement attorney fees start as low as $500.
Just what does "expungement" mean anyway?
We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes can haunt us for a very long time by staying on records that are available to the public. Criminal arrests or convictions that remain on your record can be very costly, especially if your record is being looked at by a potential employer. "Expungement" is the term that lawyers use for sealing or erasing different types of records. There are two main types of expungement in Oklahoma that one can obtain to start cleaning up blemishes on his or her record.
The first type of expungement is listed in 22 O.S. 991(c) and is for the sealing of COURT RECORDS upon the successful completion of a deferred sentence. It is important to understand that your court records are not sealed and your OSBI record is not changed automatically once you've completed your deferred sentence and had your case dismissed. You'll still need to get your record cleaned up. Once you've gotten an expungement under 22 O.S. 991(c) your court records will be sealed to the public and your OSBI arrest record will read "Pled not guilty - Case dismissed"
The second type of expungement is listed in 22 O.S. 18 and provides for the total erasure of an offense from publicly available arrest records. Oklahoma law spells out different categories of people that are eligible for this type of expungement. In general, a person charged with a more serious offense or multiple offenses will have to wait longer than a person with a less serious or single offense to qualify for an expungement under 22 O.S. 18.
Once you've completed a deferred sentence or have qualified for expungement under 22 O.S. 18, it is extremely important to get your record cleaned up to minimize the damage done to your future. If you have any questions as to whether or not you qualify for either type of expungement, please don't hesitate to contact me as soon as possible for a free consultation.