Perhaps the most common type of record expungement in Oklahoma is the expungement of a deferred sentence, as described by 22 O.S. 991c. Although a Section 991c expungement is not as thorough as a full record expungement under 22 O.S. 18, it provides some immediate relief upon successful completion of a deferred sentence.
A Section 991c expungement strikes the defendant's name from court records and updates the records to indicate that the case was dismissed. The defendant's arrest record remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation; however, his or her name will no longer appear in an Oklahoma court records search.
A Section 991c is not exclusive of a Section 18 expungement; often, the deferred record expungement gives a measure of relief from a criminal record while a petitioner awaits eligibility for a full record expungement.
In order to understand what happens in a Section 991c expungement, one must first understand what it means to have a deferred sentence.
A deferred sentence occurs when a person pleads guilty to an offense, but a judge delays sentencing, allowing a person to complete probation in lieu of jail or prison. During this time, the judge may order probationary terms including community service, drug and alcohol treatment, and full compliance with Oklahoma laws. If a defendant violates the terms of probation, a judge may accelerate sentencing, accepting the defendant's guilty plea and ordering him or her to jail.
On the other hand, if the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge changes the defendant's plea from "guilty" to "not guilty," and he or she dismisses the case. This means that, although a defendant served probation for an offense, he or she was never actually convicted of a crime.
Some people use the terms "deferred sentence" and "suspended sentence" interchangeably, but the two are quite different. Whereas a deferred sentence does not end in conviction, a suspended sentence results from conviction of a crime, but the defendant is sentenced to probation instead of prison. If the person violates probation, his or her suspension will be revoked, and the defendant will be sent to prison. Because a suspended sentence is part of a criminal conviction, the terms of Section 991c do not apply. A person with a suspended sentence may eventually be eligible for expungement under Section 18, but he or she is not immediately eligible for expungement upon completion of probation.
If you are given a deferred sentence for a criminal offense, the court will order probation instead of prison. The terms of your probation will be explicit, and if you adhere to those terms, following all court orders and refraining from breaking any laws, your case will be dismissed at the end of the probationary term.
What this means as far as expunging your court record follows:
In some cases, this may occur automatically, but in other cases, a judge may require you to appear in court at the end of your probation. An experienced Oklahoma expungement lawyer can let you know what is expected of you and can ensure that your name is removed from court records once you complete your deferred sentence.
It is a good idea to retain a lawyer, even for a Section 991c expungement, because you may also be eligible for a full expungement under Section 18. Your attorney can help assure that you meet the qualifications and can petition for full expungement once you meet all requirements.
To learn more about deferred sentence expungement, juvenile record expungement, or full expungement of your arrest record, call the Law Firm of Oklahoma at (405) 608-4990 to discuss your case with a qualified attorney. If you prefer, submit the confidential online case review form, and one of our expungement lawyers will get back with you to schedule a risk-free consultation. You have nothing to lose but your criminal record. Call today.