What Is An Expungement In Oklahoma?

There are two types of expungements in Oklahoma. They are known as § 18 and § 991c expungements. They refer to sections of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Under both sections, some part of a person’s public record is removed from the public view. Neither expungement changes what law enforcement can see. Expungement

Section 18 Expungement

This type of expungement seals records, including an arrest, to everyone except law enforcement. It’s Oklahoma’s most comprehensive expungement. It is defined in 22 O.S. § 18 as the sealing of criminal records, as well as any civil public record, involving actions brought by and against the State of Oklahoma arising from the same arrest, transaction, or occurrence.

Section 991c Expungement

The § 991c expungement removes some information from the public record but not as much as the § 18 expungement. Since it is a smaller version of the § 18 expungement, I call it “Expungement Lite”. This is because the § 991c expungement does not affect the arrest record. However, it does remove and change some public information about a case. A § 991c expungement only applies to deferred sentences that have been dismissed.

When a case is expunged under a § 991c expungement, the court clerk will remove the records of that case from public view. This means that nobody will be able to view the record online on OSCN anymore. Additionally, when the paperwork is processed through the OSBI, their records will be changed to reflect a not-guilty plea and the dismissal of the case.

How Does Having A Record Sealed Compare To Having A Record Expunged?

In Oklahoma, having a record expunged is synonymous with having a record sealed. When a record is expunged, the record is sealed to everyone except law enforcement. It’s best to think of an Oklahoma expungement under either the § 991c or §18 expungements as a sealing of records.

Misconceptions About Having A Record Expunged

A big misconception about having a record expunged is that the expungement is automatic. Many people believe that their case was expunged after their deferred sentence ended. That is not necessarily true. Sometimes the § 991c expungement is automatic; other times it is not. The 991c paperwork still must be processed both by somebody in the court and through the OSBI. While the processing of a § 991c expungement with the court clerk’s office may be automatic, the processing through OSBI is not automatic. Even if the case information was taken off the internet, the order of dismissal most likely did not get sent to the OSBI. It is very possible that the criminal record of somebody whose case was “expunged” via § 991c still shows that they pleaded guilty or have a pending case, even though they can’t find their case on OSCN anymore.

A second misconception that people have is that law enforcement can’t see their records. Remember that an expungement in Oklahoma should be thought of as a sealing of records to everybody other than law enforcement. Other states may have more thorough expungements, which is a reason why people may believe that Oklahoma’s expungements completely erase one’s record.

Even if a case has been dismissed, expunged through the § 991c process, and expunged using the Section 18 arrest record expungement, then law enforcement will still be able to see the arrest. The people who won’t be able to see the arrest would be civilians doing a background check.

The OSBI doesn’t maintain juvenile criminal history information unless the juvenile is certified as an adult by the court.

What Type Of Records Cannot Be Expunged?

Violent felonies generally cannot be expunged. If you were convicted or charged with a felony that is not an 85% crime, then you may qualify for expungement only if you get a pardon from the governor first. Someone sentenced to prison upon conviction of an 85% crime must serve at least 85% of their sentence.

Fingerprint cards will not be destroyed when an expungement is granted. Expungements do not allow the destruction of physical records. Identifying information, including fingerprints, may still be maintained by the OSBI; however, that type of identifying information will not reference or be attached to the sealed arrest information. Private sector records, such as newspaper articles, will not be expunged; those will still be available for the public to view.

Law enforcement will always be able to see your record, even after both a § 991c and a § 18 arrest expungement. Any charges, arrests, or convictions that are not eligible for expungement will still appear on your record.

Traffic offenses on a person’s driving history cannot be expunged. They are automatically removed from the driving record after three years.

According to 22 O.S. § 19, the physical destruction of criminal justice records is not authorized. Materials that are recorded in the same document as unsealed material may be recorded in a separate document and sealed, then obliterated in the original document.

The sealing of records does not prohibit the introduction of evidence regarding actions sealed pursuant to 22 O.S. § 19 at any hearing or trial for purposes of impeaching the credibility of a witness or as evidence of character testimony pursuant to 12 O.S. § 2608.

For more information on Having A Record Expunged In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 633-3420 today.


22 O.S. § 18

22 O.S. § 19

22 O.S. § 991c

Current as of October 31, 2017.