The First Step Is to Call an Attorney
Video Transcribed: Expungement 101. How does the process of expungement work in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa Expungement Attorney James Wirth and that is the topic I’m going to walk you through from beginning to end, the process of expungement in Oklahoma. The first step if you’re looking to get your record clean, you want to call an attorney.
You can call somebody at my office by going to makelaweasy.com. Then you’re going to talk to that person. You’re going to get the specifics of what are you trying to get off your record? What court is it in? How is it showing?
Then with that information, we can make the determination on whether you qualify for section 18, complete expungement, or perhaps a 991C, deferred expungement, or you want to get a protective order expunged, but most expungements involve section 18. That’s what I’m going to talk about for the remainder of this video.
If it looks like you qualify for section 18 expungement where we expunge both the court case and the arrest record, from that point, we’re going to talk about a quote for representation, and depending on how many cases you have and how many different courts it is, that’s going to determine the quote.
If all of your cases are in one county, that makes it simpler. Even if they’re in municipal court here, in municipal court there, county court, as long as it’s in the same county, these municipal courts are in the same county, the expungements filed in county court, and they can all be filed together in the same manner, which makes it simpler, cheaper option for you.
One county, and then we count up how many different ones they are, that helps us determine the price. If you’ve got two different expungements you need and they’re in separate counties, that’s going to be two separate proceedings, two separate courts and unfortunately, means two separate retainers for you.
Once we get that information figured out, you get us retained, we pull those court files, and then we do an OSBI background check to see what’s showing on your arrest record and your other records with OSBI.
Additionally, we’re going to search to see if there are other records that may be eligible for expungement that you haven’t talked about and we see if there are any other criminal cases that might trip you up in getting those expunged. The other cases we might be looking at could be protective orders. A lot of times we see those.
Those are eligible for expungement under a separate statute, but people may not realize its public record and how easily accessible it is, and how many people look for that when they’re doing background checks. If we can get that cleaned as well, then that’s going to be a great thing, although it would be a separate retainer.
From that point, once we have all the information about your background, we’ve confirmed eligibility based on the information you’ve provided, we’re going to draft the petition up. We’re going to draft an order setting hearing up and we’re going to draft the order up.
The courts don’t draft their own orders when it comes to expungements, so if you’re representing yourself, that’s probably going to be on you to do. If you have an attorney, your attorney is going to be doing that and we normally draft it upfront.
We’ve got the petition for expungement, the cover sheet that the court clerk requires, the order setting hearing, and the order granting expungement. We file the petition, give the court clerk the cover sheet, and then we drop off a copy of the petition with the judge’s clerk, along with the order setting hearing.
Now, the law in Oklahoma requires that we give 30 days’ advanced notice of any expungement hearing to all interested parties. Interested parties being the arresting agency, the DA, and the court clerk. We want to make sure that the court date is set out far enough that we’ve got time to give them 30 days’ advanced notice.
Most of the time, judges and the clerks know to do this, but 30 days advanced notice is actually a very unusual number for notice. I can’t think of anything else that requires 30 days. A lot of things, like temporary require five.
For example, other things may require a set amount of time, but 30 days is fairly unique. Sometimes we’ve seen where the court clerk and the judge try to set it for an earlier date that doesn’t even allow us that amount of time to get service, in which case that’s something that we need to correct. Otherwise, we’re going to show up to the court date and the court’s not going to have any authority to enter an order, have a hearing, or default anybody.
You don’t want to be in that scenario. You don’t want to have to go to court twice, which does bring up most of the time, if we represent a client in expungement, we almost never have to bring our client to court. Almost every time, we can handle it with just us appearing for our client.
But nonetheless, we don’t want to appear for court twice and we can get it done one time, so we want to make sure that the dataset is far enough off that we can give the statutory required 30 days notice.
We get that order-setting hearing signed by the judge. We then take it to the court clerk, get it filed, get a file-stamped copy, send out those file-stamped copies to the interested parties that I had mentioned. Then from that point, we take our order and the petition, and we see if we can circulate it among the parties that are interested in the case.
If we can get those parties to sign off on our order as an agreement, then we may be able to get it done prior to the court date, which sooner is always the better when we talk about expungements. to OSBI is another interested party. Send it off to OSBI, send it off to the court clerk.
They get it through the filing, so don’t need to have it separate there. Send it to the DA’s office and to the arresting agency. If we can get the attorneys’ representatives for each of those to sign off ahead of time, we can present it to the judge as an effectively agreed order and don’t have to appear for that hearing.
If we don’t get all of those back, then we show up at the court date and at the court date, whoever shows up, if they did not file an objection, then we expect that they’re going to sign an agreed order. If they did file an objection, we try to address it at that point.
If we can’t overcome it by the agreement at that point, we may have to set another court date where we have our clients appear so we can put on an evidentiary hearing. That’s almost never required because under Oklahoma’s expungement statute, once we show that you qualify for the expungement by statute, the burden shifts from the defendant to the state to show why the defendant should not get an expungement. It’s a fairly high burden. We rarely see objections because we’re pretty good at determining who qualifies and getting through those if there are issues that come up.
From that point, once we’re at the hearing, usually we can get it resolved that day by agreement. If they don’t show up and don’t file an objection, then we request the court default them and then we get it entered based on them being defaulted. In either case, if we get it entered on that day, the judge signs off on it, we follow the court, get certified copies.
We send certified copies out to all the interested parties, and then OSBI sends this letter that said, “Hey, we’d love to update the records for your clients, but we need $150 administrative fee,” because that’s what they charge to update those records, then we either have our clients pay that direct more often than not, they pay the 150 to us. We pay it to OSBI to make sure that gets taken care of.
Then at that point, the case is closed out. We provide a number of certified copies of the order of expungement to our clients because, from that point, the case is expunged. It’s closed out. If you go look for it, the courthouse will tell you it doesn’t exist. We call, you say it doesn’t exist.
Under some circumstances, we file to reopen those if a client needs an additional copy of the certified order of expungement. We want to avoid that, so we provide our clients with lots of copies. That’s generally speaking, the process that we go through for an expungement in Oklahoma.
If you’ve got questions on how it may apply to your circumstances, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney specifically and confidentially about that. To get that scheduled you can go online to makelaweasy.com.