How Does an Expungement Work in Oklahoma?
What is an expungement?
An expungement is an order of the District Court that seals any public record of the offense, regardless of the agency holding the records. These agencies can include the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, any arresting agency, any jail facility at which a person has been held or any municipal court at which a person appeared in regard to an arrest. This type of legal order prevents an arrest, a probation period or even a conviction from appearing on an OSBI background check. Just getting a case dismissed doesn’t seal the OSBI arrest records. To seal the OSBI records, an expungement is necessary.
How does the process of obtaining an expungement work?
In order to qualify for an expungement, an individual must qualify under Title 22 Section 18 of the Oklahoma Statutes. This expungement under Section 18 is different than a sealing of the court file under the 991(c) deferred sentence statutes. An expungement under Section 18 will seal the arrest records and police records in addition to the court file.
If a person qualifies, a lawsuit must be filed in District Court in the county in which the charges were prosecuted. This requirement applies regardless of whether the charges were prosecuted in state court or a municipal court. Once the lawsuit has been filed, a hearing date will be set within 30 to45 days. Notice must be provided to all interested parties. These will include the arresting agency, the prosecuting office and the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation. It may also be necessary to give notice to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and any facility into which the individual was booked.
- If no one objects to the granting of the expungement, everyone will typically sign an agreed order that is then presented to the judge for signature. Certified copies of the order will then be distributed to all parties and all public records of the arrest, prosecution, probation and/or conviction will be sealed to the public.
- If all parties do not agree, then the court will hold a hearing to determine if the expungement should be granted. The court will balance the need for the public to know for public safety purposes versus the harm to the privacy of the person in interest or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences.
How is an expungement finalized?
Once the expungement is signed and filed with the court, an individual – as well as law enforcement – may reply to an inquiry about an arrest that no such event happened and be safe in knowing the law says this is true. Just remember, even with an expungement, law enforcement will always be able to see the sealed information; they just can’t share it with the public.
To see if you qualify to apply for an expungement, call the Hunsucker Legal Group at (405) 231-5600 or click here to schedule a free consultation.