Expungement: How to Remove a Charge from Your Record
Just because an arrest or criminal charge occurs doesn’t mean you will always have a criminal record. Sometimes, expungement is available when you work with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
This process is complicated and requires a skilled legal expert. You must follow a specific process to determine if your situation or charges qualify for an expungement. But it’s worth the effort to remove charges that could affect your future.
What is Expungement?
In certain situations, it’s possible to remove criminal charges from your record. This process is known as “expungement,” which means that court databases and background checks will no longer show your charge or conviction. This process destroys the records of a criminal conviction or seals them on a state or federal level.
If the judge grants an expungement, it means that it’s as if the criminal conviction record never happened. It removes the documents from both public records on your criminal record.
Expungement is more common for first-time offenders and juveniles. But it’s possible for the expungement of other charges through a court review.
Expungement vs. Legal Pardon
Keep in mind that there is a clear difference in the legal proceedings for expungement vs. forgiveness. Expungement doesn’t mean that the court forgives you for committing a crime. It just means that the record is no longer recognized. On the other hand, a legal pardon doesn’t remove the conviction from a person’s record.
A court or a judge oversees these proceedings. Public officials have the ability to grant pardons, such as the President of the United States or the current Oklahoma state governor.
Why Expungement Matters
Are you familiar with the long-term impact a criminal record can have on your life? Even minor offenses can have a domino effect on many aspects of your future:
- Job opportunities when background checks are part of the employment requirements
- Limits to obtain specific licenses, such as medical certifications
- Difficulty obtaining security clearances necessary for certain jobs
- Rights to own a firearm
- Child custody rights and parenting issues
- Social reputation is in question, causing prospective or current employers to treat you differently
The undeniable impact on employment opportunities and income has a downstream effect on personal life as well. For example, if someone with a criminal record has a hard time finding employment, it makes it more difficult to pay the bills and keep up with living costs. The financial pressure takes a toll on your overall wellness and your ability to provide for yourself and your family.
You might be able to avoid these issues by working with a criminal defense attorney to seek expungement. Even if you can’t get the judge to drop the charges entirely, these legal services help reduce the charges and sentencing. Expungement can be the support you need to turn things around, giving you more opportunities to create a better life for yourself in the future.
How to Get an Expungement in Oklahoma
You must meet specific requirements for a judge or court to consider an expungement. This process involves petitioning the district court, and the approval depends on the situation and your case. When you have the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it increases the likelihood of success with your expungement.
Qualifications for expungement might include:
- You receive an acquittal
- An arrest occurred without charges within the allotted time
- They drop the charges against you
- DNA evidence clears you of the crime
- Evidence shows that someone used your name when committing the crime
- Successful completion of the sentencing terms
- Juvenile conviction
- Misdemeanor conviction
Court Process: What to Expect
It might seem like an overwhelming situation to expunge your criminal record. Hiring an attorney is the best decision in this circumstance. Your legal team will walk you through each step, helping to make it a smooth and stress-free process.
Most of the time, the expungement process includes:
- Building a Case: Your attorney will make a case and gather documentation. You must show the judge that you qualify for the expungement.
- Filing a Petition: Expungement requires you to write a petition (with the help of your lawyer). Then, you will file the petition in the appropriate court district where the charges occurred.
- Court Hearing: Within 30 days, the judge’s office will set a hearing date to review the case.
- Notifications: Everyone involved in the hearing process receives a notification. For example, the state attorney’s office receives notifications since they are involved in filing the charges.
- Ruling: Finally, the hearing occurs, and the judge makes the ruling. This decision determines whether or not you receive the expungement.
Not only is there a lot of paperwork for expungement, but the court proceedings are stressful and complicated if you aren’t familiar with the legal industry. The best course of action is to ensure you have an excellent legal team by your side. A DIY approach might lead to a denial of your expungement, having a life-long impact on your future.
How a Lawyer Can Help
The judge must review many pieces of information to determine if you will receive the expungement. You must present this information in an organized manner. The goal is to show the best perspective possible to persuade the judge to grant your request.
An experienced criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of the court system. This experience is invaluable in designing the optimal defense for your unique situation. Your lawyer can help with several aspects of the expungement process:
- Help you determine if you are eligible for expungement
- Show the remorse or regret you are experiencing
- Prove that you are now a law-abiding citizen
- Build an argument that the expungement relief outweighs the need for public records about the incident
When you have a respectable attorney, it increases the likelihood that you will get the expungement you deserve.
You can learn more about how expungement works in Oklahoma by talking to a local attorney. Contact our team at AMA Law to learn more about available services for criminal defense. Additionally, the state of Oklahoma offers helpful information on its website.