No Pardon Required in Non-Violent Felony Expungement
An Oklahoma expungement reform that takes effect Nov. 1, 2018 reduces waiting periods and eliminates pardon requirements before individuals may seek expungement of criminal records. The reform affects those previously convicted of no more than one non-violent felony offense.
When Oklahoma first authorized expungement of non-violent felony convictions in 2002, the law required a full pardon for the offense. In addition to requiring a pardon, non-violent felonies could only be expunged if the person had not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony. The law required a 10-year waiting period after the felony conviction.
The expungement reform Gov. Mary Fallin signed on April 26, 2018 changed the waiting period from 10 to five years. The five-year-wait starts, however after a person completes their sentence for the felony. For those whose incarceration or probation is longer than five years, the new law would extend waiting periods.
The 2018 expungement law also reduces the wait for individuals convicted of a separate misdemeanor in addition to a non-violent felony. Non-violent felonies can now be expunged 7 years after a separate misdemeanor conviction.
Until 2015, a person with a non-violent felony and a separate misdemeanor was not eligible for expungement in Oklahoma. That year, lawmakers allowed expungement of a non-violent felony 15 years after a separate misdemeanor conviction. The 2018 reform rolled back the wait to 7 years.
Oklahoma expungement laws have dramatically expanded since 2002 when lawmakers first authorized expungement of a single misdemeanor 10 years after a conviction. Multiple misdemeanors and even multiple non-violent felonies can now be expunged. Misdemeanors resulting in fines under $500 can now be immediately expunged. Waiting periods for most convictions have been reduced from those first introduced.
What Happens when Court Records Are Sealed
People seek to expunge court records so they can put legal trouble in the past. Under Oklahoma law, a person may legally answer no when asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime that was later expunged. The law specifically says a person “may state that no such action has ever occurred.”
Once sealed, the law states that the court case, arrest and even the petition to expunge “the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred.”
When court records are expunged, they are sealed at the county courthouse or by agencies such as police or probation agencies. That means the court records and arrest records are held securely and nobody outside of law enforcement can inspect them without court approval. Records must be held under seal for 10 years, after which they may be destroyed.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Expungement Attorney
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony in Oklahoma, chances are you qualify to have your court record sealed. If you did not qualify last year or a couple of years ago, you may now qualify due to passage of time and repeated changes in the law.
To learn if you can petition to expunge Oklahoma court records, contact an expungement attorney in Tulsa at Wirth Law Office. Call immediately to request a free consultation with a Tulsa criminal attorney. Call (918) 879-1681 or send your contact information using the email form at the top of the page.