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Expungement and Pardon of Criminal Records: A second chance at a clean record Print   Close
by: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

What is an Expungement?

Generally, an expungement is a sealing of a public record. 

Usually people want to expunge criminal records.

Oklahoma law allows for expungements in some cases.  You may be eligible to have your criminal conviction or arrest record expunged.   An expungement does not mean the records will be destroyed, only sealed from general public view.  Even if the criminal record is sealed, a judge may still allow police departments, the attorney general, the district attorney or others to have access to the criminal records. 



Which Type of Expungement do I Need?

In Oklahoma, there are two ways to expunge criminal records.  A "991c" expungement is available for a deferred sentence, if all conditions of the deferred sentence have been met.  The "991c" expungement will seal only the immediate court records.  The OSBI arrest record will reflect "plead not guilty, case dismissed" where the charge is recorded. 


A "Section 18" expungement seals both the immediate court record and the OSBI arrest record.  The OSBI record will contain only your identifying information (name, address, etc.). 


A third type of expungement under Oklahoma law is for Victim Protective Orders.


Expungement Under Section 18

Am I Eligible for a Section 18 Expungement?

Section 18 expungements include sealing arrest records and convictions, such as:

  • a suspended sentence (even if the sentence was only probation),
  • a finding of guilt by a judge or jury, or;
  • a revocation of a deferred sentence

These convictions can only be sealed under a Section 18 expungement procedure, if at all. 

To be eligible for a Section 18 expungement, you must fit into one of the categories below:

  •  you have been acquitted of the charge;
  • the conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court or an appellate court reversed the conviction and the district attorney subsequently dismissed the charge;
  • your innocence was established using DNA evidence after the conviction.  This applies even if you were released from prison when your innocence was established;
  • you have received a full pardon by the Governor based on actual innocence of that crime;
  • you were arrested and no charges of any type are filed including charges for some other crime;
  • you were arrested and charges are dismissed within one (1) year of your arrest;
  • you were arrested and all charges were dismissed on the merits;
  • the statute of limitations on the crime expired and no charges were filed;
  • you were under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the crime was committed and you received a full pardon for the crime;
  • Misdemeanors:
    • you have not been convicted of any other crime (misdemeanor or felony), and;
    • no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against you, and;
    • at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction;
  • Non-Violent Felonies:
    • the offense was a non-violent felony (not one of the Violent Felonies listed below), and,
    • you received a full pardon for the crime, and,
    • you have not been convicted of any other crime, and,
    • no charges (felony or misdemeanor) are pending against you,
    • and, at least ten (10) years have passed since the conviction; or,
  • Identity Theft:
    • you have been charged or arrested, or
    • there is an arrest warrant outstanding for you, and,
    • the crime was committed by another person who has used your name or other identification without your approval.


Is there a court hearing to get a Section 18 expungement?
Even if one of the above applies to you, a judge must review your situation and decide whether your interest in privacy and the harm you suffer from the open record outweighs the public interest in keeping the record. 

Should I have a lawyer?
If you think you qualify for an expungement based on Section 18, you should get a copy of your OSBI record and have a lawyer look at the record.

May I Deny I have been arrested?

If you obtain a Section 18 expungement, you may legally deny that your arrest ever occurred, except in certain limited situations.  But, if you are testifying in a court case, those sealed or expunged records may still be used to challenge your honesty or credibility.  Law enforcement will still have access to an expunged record.  

Generally, you cannot be forced to list or discuss the information contained in the sealed records in an interview or application, unless otherwise allowed by law. 

You cannot be denied employment solely based on a refusal to disclose sealed records. 

Does an expungement apply to every record of a crime?

An expungement only seals some records.  You cannot require private entities to seal or erase their records regarding your arrest or conviction.  For example, if there was a newspaper account of the situation, an expungement cannot force the news entity to seal or destroy the articles or information. 


Violent Felonies

Violent felonies cannot be expunged.  If the conviction or charge in question is a felony AND IF IT IS NOT listed below, it may be a non-violent felony.  You may be eligible for expungement after you obtain a pardon.  You should have a lawyer view your OSBI record to check for problems with violent felonies.
This is a list of VIOLENT felony charges:








  • assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous or deadly weapon;
  •  aggravated assault
  • and battery on a police officer, sheriff, highway
  • patrolman, or any other officer of the law;
  •  poisoning with intent to kill;
  •  shooting with intent to kill;
  • assault with intent to kill;
  • assault with intent to commit a felony;
  • assaults while masked or disguised;
  • murder in the first degree;
  • murder in the second degree;
  • manslaughter in the first degree;
  •  manslaughter in the second degree;
  •  kidnapping;
  • burglary in the first degree;
  • burglary with explosives;
  • kidnapping for extortion;
  • maiming;
  •  robbery;
  • robbery in the first degree;
  •  robbery in the second degree;
  • armed robbery;
  • robbery by two (2) or more persons;
  • robbery with dangerous weapon or imitation firearm;
  • child abuse;
  •  wiring any equipment, vehicle or structure with explosives; 
  • forcible sodomy;
  • rape in the first degree;
  • rape in the second degree;
  •  rape by instrumentation;
  •  lewd or indecent proposition or lewd or indecent act with a child;
  • use of a firearm or offensive weapon to commit or attempt to commit a felony;
  • pointing firearms;
  • rioting;
  • inciting to riot;
  • arson in the first degree;
  •  injuring or burning public buildings;
  • sabotage;
  • criminal syndicalism;
  • extortion;
  • obtaining signature by extortion;
  • seizure of a bus, discharging firearm or hurling missile at bus;
  • mistreatment of a mental patient; or,
  •  using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon pursuant to the Oklahoma Statues, Title 21, Section 652.


Expungement Under a Section '991c' Deferred Sentence

Who is Eligible for a 'Section 991c' Expungement?

 If you have received a deferred sentence, you may be eligible for a Section 991c expungement.   You only qualify if you successfully completed all the conditions of probation, and the entire deferral period has passed.  Usually you cannot get a Section 991c expungement if you have a prior felony conviction.  A court may waive this requirement. 




How will a 991c expungement affect my court and arrest record?

  •   Your name will be removed from the court docket sheet.
  •  Your name will be marked out of the public index of the filing of the charge.
  • A confidential index of your case number and your name will be made.  This file cannot be accessed without your permission or a written order from a judge.
  •  A Section 991c expungement will not remove your arrest from your OSBI record, so you may need to obtain a Section 18 expungement once you are eligible for one.
  • A Section 991c expungement will change the OSBI report of the arrest to "plead not guilty, case dismissed."


 Expungement of Victim Protective Orders

 An expungement of a Victim Protective Order may be filed only if:

  • An ex parte order (usually an emergeny order, when you had no notice of the hearing) was issued to the plaintiff:
    • but later the petition was dropped before the full hearing, or,
    • the petition was denied upon full hearing, or,
    • the plaintiff did not appear for the full hearing, and;
    • at least ninety (90) days have passed since the date set for full hearing;
  • The plaintiff filed an application for a victim protective order and:
    •  failed to appear for the full hearing, and,
    • at least ninety (90) days have passed since the date last set by the court for the full hearing
    • including the last date set for any continuance, postponement or rescheduling of the hearing;
  • The plaintiff or defendant has had the order vacated and three (3) years have passed since the order to vacate was entered; or
  • The plaintiff or defendant is deceased.



Information Not Legal Advice. This web site has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this web site is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation.

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