What Is an Expungement?
Expungements, generally speaking, are where a conviction is wiped away. The criminal record is sealed. The court record – your arrest record – is sealed. This eliminates your criminal record, allowing you to say that the conviction never happened.
When there is a situation a defendant is charged with a crime and the state has more than sufficient evidence of the crime to convict them, you often need to switch gears to mitigation – damage control, minimizing the consequences of the case, both immediate and long-term. Expungements, whenever you’re talking plea negotiations – cases ongoing – are not something that’s right there on the table in front of you right away.
Let’s say a legal team is putting together a plea deal and the client wants to know if they can get the convictions off their record down the road. What are some offenses that are expungable? Do we need to maybe try to craft something different, so that it is expungeable?
Here are two examples:
- Misdemeanors — If you have never been convicted of a felony, are not currently under investigation for a crime, and after ten years, have not been found guilty of any subsequent crimes, you are eligible to have misdemeanors expunged.
- No Period of Incarceration — If you pled guilty or no contest to an offense and never served time (just paid a fine of $500 or less), that’s immediately expungeable. If you’re in a situation where this is a possible plea, have your lawyer speak to the district attorney and convince them a fine is all that’s necessary.
It’s important to have an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney that’s familiar with expungement statutes, as they change frequently.
There are types of felony offenses that are just not expungeable under the statute. The main ones here are a) Violent felonies and b) sex offenses that require compliance under the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act.
If you are initially charged with one of those offenses and it is obviously going to prevent you from getting an expungement down the road, it may be possible to negotiate an amended charge, which means let’s pick a different felony that fits the facts. You may be able to get creative with what that might be.
It may look something like this. Your lawyer goes to the district attorney and says, “Okay. We’ve got this plea offer on the deal.” The offer includes a suspended sentence, fines, classes, and community service. However, maybe your exact charge isn’t eligible for expungement so as part of the plea, your charge is amended so that once you complete your sentence, you will be eligible for the statute.
Free Consultation with a Bartlesville Expungement Attorney
As with any case, having a good attorney is critical to achieving the best possible outcome.