Tulsa Expungement Attorney Explains Expunction Reforms
An Oklahoma expungement reform law that took effect Nov. 1, 2016 creates new opportunities for people convicted of crimes in Oklahoma to clear their record and start over.
In some cases, convictions that could not be expunged for five years can now be immediately expunged. Other offenses that previously could not be expunged are now eligible for expungement in Oklahoma.
Changes in Oklahoma expungement law that took effect Nov. 1, 2016 include:
- Individuals convicted of a misdemeanor and fined less than $501 with no other suspended sentence or jail sentence can immediately file a motion for expungement – even if the person served jail time in lieu of paying the fine. Such convictions may now be immediately expunged without waiting 10 years as was previously required.
- A person convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to jail time, fined more than $500 or given a suspended sentence can move for expungement five years after the end of the last misdemeanor sentence. The new law cuts the wait time from 10 years to five.
- A person charged with a misdemeanor who successfully completes a deferred judgement or delayed sentence may request expungement a year after the charge is dismissed even if they had been convicted of other misdemeanors. A felony conviction remains a barrier to expungement but the law previously did not allow expungement of deferred adjudications for people with other misdemeanor convictions on their record.
- A person charged with a non-violent felony who successfully completes a deferred judgment or delayed sentence can apply for expungement five years after the charge was dismissed, if they have never been convicted of a felony. Previously, the law required a 10 year wait and did not allow expungement if the person had been convicted of any misdemeanor.
- Individuals convicted of no more than two non-violent felony offenses and who have been granted full pardons can now file file a motion for expungment 20 years after the most recent felony or misdemeanor conviction.
- Expungement records now includes civil records in addition to criminal records, which could make a difference for drivers whose licenses were civilly suspended in relation to DUI charges.
In all expungement cases, with the exception of identity theft expungement, a person may not request expungement while they face pending misdemeanor or felony charges. Oklahoma law allows for identity theft expungement when a person is charged or arrested for a crime committed by someone falsely using their name.
Social Security Numbers in Court Records
An amendment to the new Oklahoma expungement reforms attempts to address use of Social Security numbers and dates of birth in court records. That part of the new law could do as much harm as good. The law requires court clerks to include year of birth and the last four digits of a Social Security number in court records after a conviction is handed down.
Oklahoma residents in recent years have widely complained that Social Security numbers and birth dates are often included in court records. The records addressed by the new law, however, are not always those where complete Social Security numbers are often included.
Police affidavits – filed when a person is first called into court – sometimes include complete Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Because those fillings are not addressed in the new law, as far as this bill is concerned, no change is mandated. Social Security numbers may still appear on affidavits or other court records, and partial Social Security numbers must be included on records of court convictions.
Some security analysts suggest using the last for digits of a Social Security number is no more secure than providing the entire number. A person can often deduce the other digits in the national 9-digit identification code based on knowledge of an individual’s personal history.
Expunged DNA Inadmissible at Trial
Other changes to the expungement statute address who must be contacted when a person requests to have records expunged. The change could reduce a bottle neck where district attorneys had been notified in lieu of other officials perhaps more familiar with a prosecution.
The law previously stated, in addition to the arresting agency, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and other interested persons, the district attorney related to a case must be notified. That list of people who must be contacted remains intact except that now the prosecuting attorney must be notified rather than the district attorney. The change could affect situations where misdemeanors were prosecuted in municipal courts by city prosecutors rather than district attorney offices.
Changes to the Oklahoma expungement law also set a sunset on DNA evidence collected in relation to convictions that were subsequently expunged. The new law makes DNA evidence from expunged convictions inadmissible in subsequent trials. A 2015 Oklahoma expungement law required state agencies to expunge DNA samples, records and identifiable information, but prosecutors could have argued any DNA records not expunged – inadvertently or otherwise – could be used at trial. Now they cannot.
Free Consultation: Tulsa OK Expungement Attorney
In most cases, determining if a person is qualified for Oklahoma criminal records expungement is a reasonably straightforward matter. If the person can accurately account for their involvement with the court system, a Tulsa expungement attorney can quickly determine if they are likely to qualify for expungement.
While a motion for expungment requires some research to verify charges, dates and dispositions, a quick consultation can usually determine whether expungment is worth pursuing. To find out if you might be qualified for expungment, contact a Wirth Law Office Tulsa expungement attorney at (918) 879-1681 or set up a consultation using the form at the top of this page.