Although it may sound like a simple process to file a petition for criminal records expungement, it is a more complicated process than you might think, and it requires the time and attention of an experienced expungement attorney.
First Step: Do You Qualify For a Criminal Records Expungement?
First, make sure that you are eligible for a complete criminal records expungement. Time lines vary by the type of conviction, and only misdemeanors and non-violent felonies qualify. There are 14 qualifying categories in the expungement statute. Depending on the type of conviction and the type of sentence you received, your waiting time will vary from immediate for some misdemeanor convictions up to 20 years for a conviction of not more than two nonviolent felonies.
Knowing what category you fit into directly affects your waiting time. Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 18.
Filing The Petition For Criminal Records Expungement
If you are eligible, your attorney will prepare a petition for criminal records expungement. There is no form for this type of petition. The petition is a pleading and pleadings have certain formalities that must be observed. It is filed with the court that houses your criminal records. You must also pay a filing fee, which may be refunded to you if your petition is granted. Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 19.
Upon filing, the court sets a hearing date that is at least 30 days out from the filing date. That is because all interested parties must be formally served with the petition and notice of hearing within a timely manner to allow that party to file formal objections and attend the hearing. Interested parties include the prosecuting and arresting agencies, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), and possibly others. Any of these persons or agencies can object to the sealing of your records. Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 19.
After the hearing, the court rules on your petition. It may grant your petition if it finds that the harm to you outweighs the public’s interest in retaining the records. The court may also deny your petition. Once sealed, these records can be unsealed, but only by another petition.
If you fail to follow all the court’s procedures, your petition will most likely be denied.
Follow-up May Be Needed
All too often, things can get mired down in bureaucracy. Once you get a ruling in your favor, it is critical that your attorney follow up with the courts and other agencies involved to make sure that your records are all sealed.
Don’t gamble with your life. Hire an experienced Okmulgee criminal expungement attorney to help you.
Free Consultation With An Experienced Okmulgee Criminal Expungement Attorney
Let us help you with your expungement needs and concerns. Call our Okmulgee office at (918) 756-9600 or toll-free (888) Wirth-LAW for a free consultation at the Wirth Law Office – Okmulgee. Or, enter your legal question or concern in the firm at the top right of this page, and one of our attorneys will promptly return your message.