Criminal Expungement: What are the Benefits?
Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, some are more long lasting than others. Seemingly permanent, they have a way of coming up again and again even after years since the mistake was made. Having a criminal record is just like that. If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you probably know you have a record out there for the world to see.
Life can get pretty difficult if you have to go around with the mark of a criminal record on your files. It can you keep from enjoying and achieving quite a lot. Have you ever wondered how it would feel to have that troubling record gone? You’ll be glad to know you can.
In Oklahoma, it is possible to get rid of your criminal record through the criminal expungement process.
What is a criminal expungement?
Criminal expungement is a court process that ends in the sealing of a criminal record so that it cannot be seen or accessed by the general public. With the growing use and popularity of background checks, it is very easy for a prospective employer or landlord to check up on the background of an employee or tenant.
This information, in certain hands, may present a number of obstacles. The process of criminal expungement allows you to seal those records so that they are inaccessible to general eyes. It gives you a clean slate and allows you to say “no” when asked if you have a criminal record.
Benefits of a Criminal Expungement
In addition to having peace of mind based on the fact that you will no longer be automatically regarded as a criminal by those who search your name, there are lot of other benefits you’ll get from a criminal expungement.
More than 80% of employers do background checks on their prospective employees. Even if they don’t do the check, it’s very likely that they could ask you if you have ever had a criminal conviction. If you are granted a Section 18 expungement by an Oklahoma court you may answer “no” to that question.
If you lie and say no, you’d simply give your employer cause to fire you as soon as he or she finds out. Instead of hoping for jobs that don’t include background checks or employers that don’t ask you questions about your background, you should look into getting a criminal expungement.
Landlords routinely do background checks on their potential tenants. Depending on what your background shows, you might suddenly get a message that your offer for the apartment was not accepted.
Even if the landlord does not refuse you the apartment, the fact of your previous conviction may weigh heavily on their minds and make them impose strict conditions on you. They may even charge a higher rent or require a bigger deposit because they just don’t see you as the ideal tenant.
If you have your record expunged though, you don’t have to worry about not getting that apartment you want.
Admissions into graduate school can be very competitive. It gets all but impossible to secure an admission if you have a felony or misdemeanor on your record. You can put your mind at ease by clearing your criminal record before applying.
A criminal record can impair your right to carry, use or even repair guns. You may not be allowed to carry concealed or even drive with a gun in your vehicle once it is determined that you have a criminal record.
Reinstating your gun rights isn’t easy either. In the event you have a felony conviction, you’ll need more than a provisional pardon or even a governor’s pardon. What you’ll need is a full criminal expungement before you’ll be able to lawfully carry arms or hunt in Oklahoma.
Your options for foster parenting or adoption may be severely limited with a criminal record. The courts usually run a check on the criminal backgrounds of applicants and anyone who has a violent misdemeanor or felony on their record would likely be nixed.
A criminal expungement can take care of things though. You won’t have to worry about your past keeping you from having the family you want.
Criminal records also greatly affect insurance rates. If it is discovered that you have a criminal record, your rates may skyrocket. The insurance company could also require you to pay a higher premium because you would be regarded as more of a risk.
Investing in a criminal expungement would help get this particular issue taken care of before causing any more damage.
A lot of states ban individuals with criminal records from being eligible for tax payer funded public assistance and food stamps. You shouldn’t suffer now for what is already in the past. A criminal expungement will make it so that you can take advantage of public assistance if and when you need it.
Your eligibility to vote may have been revoked due to your criminal record. And depending on how long ago your conviction or arrest was, you may not be able to run for some public offices.
While this may seem cruel, the law is the law. Fortunately, the law gives you the opportunity to be a full member of your society endowed with all necessary rights and privileges. With a criminal expungement, you have the opportunity to restore these rights.
Perhaps the most important benefit of having your record expunged is that it gives you a clean slate. It effectively gets the monkey of your past off your back and ensures that you don’t have to worry about its effect on your life anymore.
With a criminal expungement, you are free to answer truthfully and in the negative when you are asked if you have a criminal record.
Are you eligible for criminal expungement?
The criminal expungement process is not simple but it is worth it. While it may not be guaranteed, it is a better option that you can explore instead of simply hoping things will get better. Some of the offenses eligible for expungement are:
To qualify here, you must have been convicted under the age of 18 and have since been granted a full pardon for the felony offense.
For an expungement here, you must not have been convicted of a felony, or be facing criminal charges. It is also necessary to show that you have not been convicted of a criminal offense for a certain number of years.
Deferred Sentence for a Misdemeanor
You can qualify here if you have not been convicted for any other misdemeanor or felony offenses and no other charges are pending. You would be able to apply after successful completion of the conditions of your deferred judgment.
For this category of offenses, you must have received a full pardon and a certain period of time must have passed since the felony conviction along with any other convictions you may have.
Deferred Sentence for a Non-Violent Felony
For this category, you must not have been convicted for any other misdemeanor or felony and no other charges must be pending. You can apply after successful completion of the terms and conditions of your deferred judgement.
How to Get an Expungement
There are two ways to effect an expungement of criminal records in Oklahoma. These are by statutory authority or inherent authority.
An expungement by statutory authority is done under the provisions of the statute. It has an effect of sealing your records both within the courts and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).
An expungement by inherent authority on the other hand is done by the judge. In this instance, only the records in the court will be sealed. This means that a potential employer or landlord who runs a check on you with the OSBI can still see your criminal records on their database.
You need to get in touch with a lawyer in order to determine which is best for you. This is because each person’s particular needs are paramount and each of the options comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Do you have to expunge multiple arrests or convictions separately?
It is possible that you have more than one arrest or conviction on your record. If this applies to you, you must be wondering if you have to expunge them separately. The answer depends on your situation.
If you have multiple arrests in the same county, you can list all of them on one petition for expungement. This would be very convenient and cost efficient as well.
If you have several arrests or convictions over different counties though, you must file a petition in each county that you were arrested in.
So, it would depend on how many counties your arrests, charges, or convictions occurred in. It is very important that you list all of these items on your record so that your petition is accurate.
Should you get a criminal expungement?
As you should gather after reading this, it is clearly evident that you will be better off getting a criminal expungement. Instead of letting some occurrence in the past define who you are, you can take control of your life and get a fresh start.
If you are ready to take action, get in touch with a criminal expungement lawyer.