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Typically, individuals have no full control over their records once they are made public in Oklahoma. Public records can be disseminated indiscriminately or manipulated. Fraudsters often use publicly available information about a person for scams. Many individuals in Oklahoma with certain health conditions typically prefer not to have their information in the public domain to avoid discrimination. To prevent public records from falling into devious hands, it becomes necessary to clean such records via deletion and other means. However, it is impossible to delete public records in their entirety in Oklahoma. Various government agencies will always have access to public records under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, interested persons may restrict public access to their publicly available data in Oklahoma.
What is a Public Record in Oklahoma?
According to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, public records are documents created and maintained by public bodies. They are usually generated during the conduct of government business. The physical form of the document or information generated during official government duties does not matter in its classification as a public record. A public record in Oklahoma can be a book, paper, microfilm, photograph, or audio recording. Oklahoma enacted the Open Records Act because the state acknowledges that political power is vested in the people. Making information available to the public ensures that that political power is exercised judiciously. The following are some public records in Oklahoma:
- Property records
- Court records (except those specifically exempted by the Act)
- Inmates records
- Criminal records
- Arrest records
These records are available for inspection and copying. In Oklahoma, an interested person can apply to obtain a public record by completing the Open Records Act Request Form. The form should be submitted to the relevant custodian of the required public record. The Open Records Act authorizes public records repositories to charge an amount that will cover the cost of reproducing public records and the time lost in searching for them. The Act exempts some records from public disclosure. Such records include
- Records protected by state evidentiary privilege
- Personnel records
- Specific educational records
- Sex offendersâ€™ registration files
- Research on the medical market
- Computer programs
- Business-related bids
In Oklahoma, requests for records that have been statutorily excluded from public disclosure are usually denied. Although individualsâ€™ public records cannot be completely deleted in Oklahoma, sealing or expunging such records will restrict public access. Only persons authorized by law are granted access to the sealed or expunged records.
Does Oklahoma allow Expungement?
Oklahoma permits the expungement of some public records. Expungement of records is their legal removal from the public domain, and no unauthorized persons can access such records. Expungement is also known as expunction.
How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has conditions that must be fulfilled by persons interested in expunging their criminal records. Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes stipulates that the following persons are eligible for Oklahoma criminal records expungement:
- A person acquitted of a criminal offense
- A person whose conviction was dismissed by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction
- A person whose innocence was established by using DNA evidence after conviction
- An individual who receives full pardon by the Governor for the crime for which they were sentenced
- A person who was arrested and no charges of any type filed
- A person who was under eighteen years of age at the time of committing an offense and has received a full pardon
- Someone charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, with all charges dismissed
- An individual who was convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to a fine of less than $501 without imprisonment or suspended sentences. The fine should have been paid or satisfied by the time served in place of the fine. Also, they must not have a felony or misdemeanor charges pending against them
- A person convicted of not more than two felony offenses, none of which is listed in Section 13.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The offenses should also not require the persons to register according to the provisions of the Sex Offenders Registration Act. The offender should not have pending felony or misdemeanor charges, and at least ten years must have passed since the completion of the sentence for the felony conviction
- A person who was charged or arrested for a crime committed by other people as a result of identity theft
Oklahomaâ€™s criminal record expungement process can be quite complicated, and petitioners are usually advised to hire attorneys. Individuals seeking to conclude the expunction process without attorneys should note that any error in the application process can lead to the rejection of their application.
An eligible person can file a Petition to Expunge Records with the clerk of the court where the case was initially heard. The clerk will set a date for the hearing when all parties and agencies involved will be present. However, the petitioner must serve the filed petitions to the District Attorney, the primary custodian of the record to be expunged, and other agencies that may have the record before hearing. The judge will review the benefit of expunging such a record and sign the order to expunge it. The order will then be served on all repositories maintaining the record to restrict public access to such a record.
Oklahoma arrest records are also expunged in this manner for petitioners who file for a Section 18 expungement. When granted, all the records regarding an arrest are expunged. Petitioners who received deferred sentences are only eligible for a Section 991(c) expungement, which removes their plea from the public domain. Arrest records remain permanently public with this expungement. Any inquiry on such an expunged record will return a â€œPled not guilty, case dismissedâ€ response. Oklahoma criminal records expungement is free, but expunging arrest records in the state attracts a $150 processing fee and other fees charged by local law enforcement agencies.
Will My Expungement Record Show Up On a Background Check in Oklahoma?
All expunged records are supposedly removed from the public domain and should not show up on background checks. However, there are some situations where these records will show up. Petitioners who file for a Section 991 (c) expungement will not have their convictions displayed. However, such expungements do not remove arrest records from public records, and this will show up in background checks. Additionally, some non-FRCA compliant third-party background check service providers do not regularly update records obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Expunged records may show up when background checks are done by these vendors. Individuals with expunged records can run personal background checks with the OSBI to know the records that are still publicly available after expungements.
How to Seal a Record in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, individualsâ€™ eligibility requirements for record sealing are the same as those of expungement. Persons seeking to have all or some of their records sealed must be sure that such records pass the eligibility test. Section 19 of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes requires such individuals to petition the district court where the agency keeping their records is located. The court will fix a date for the hearing and give a 30-day notice to all the parties involved. The person named on the record and government agencies that may have the records to be sealed will be served notices of the petition. They must also be present at the hearing. If the judge identifies a genuine reason to seal the petitionerâ€™s record, such a judge will issue an order to seal the record. However, if the petition is rejected, the petitioner may appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Who Can See My Sealed Record in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, law enforcement agencies are authorized to view sealed records for law enforcement purposes. Arrest records of persons with deferred sentences can be seen by members of the public even when their conviction records are sealed. In certain instances, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board (PPB) is also empowered to view some sealed records.
How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Oklahoma
Bankruptcy is a federally-authorized way of declaring the inability to repay a debt. Sometimes, it eliminates pending bills (called a discharge). If bills cannot be eliminated, filing for bankruptcy allows creditors and debtors to make new arrangements on how the repayments will be spread over a period.
Deleting bankruptcy records is possible if included in a personâ€™s credit report by error. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates credit reporting bureaus to provide accurate credit reports. In Oklahoma, any inaccurate bankruptcy record can be reported to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Once informed, the credit bureaus will fix the error and delete the bankruptcy. A legitimate bankruptcy record cannot be deleted. However, it will be deleted from its subjectâ€™s credit report after some years, depending on the type of bankruptcy filed. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on an individualâ€™s credit reports for ten years, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy gets deleted after seven years.
What are Consumer Protection Laws in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is currently reviewing a bill to regulate consumer privacy protection. Representatives Josh West and Colin Walke introduced the Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act (OCDPA) on January 19, 2021, for the stateâ€™s 58th legislative session to pass into law. One of the OCDPAâ€™s mandates is for some companies to seek consumersâ€™ consent before collecting and selling their data. If passed into law, the OCDPA will empower consumers to know the data businesses have on them and seek the deletion of such data. It will also have jurisdiction over companies that collect consumersâ€™ data or have these data collected on their behalf. Such companies must be grossing over $10,000,000 in annual revenue and derive over 25% of their annual revenue from selling consumersâ€™ data. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) will enforce the provisions of the OCDPA once it is enacted.
How to Delete Lien Records in Oklahoma
Title 42 of the Oklahoma Statutes defines liens as the charges imposed on specific properties. A lien acts as the security to be forfeited if a particular action is not taken. The statutes classify liens into:
- General liens - Persons holding this lien are empowered to enforce it against the owner of the property if all of the obligations expected from the other party are not fulfilled
- Special liens - Obligations expected from the holder of the property are more specific than that of general liens and can be enforced if not executed
Individuals who wish to search liens in Oklahoma can do so at the offices of the county clerks across the state. Many counties make provisions for online lien searches on their websites. Some third-party public record websites also provide this service.
A person can delete their lien records in Oklahoma by paying their debts in full. County records will be updated, and liens will be erased after payment. An individual can also wait till the enforcement period on liens expires, after which it will be deleted. If the holder of the lien does not take any action within the stipulated time, it will be terminated. Note that the time given to enforce liens differ. Judgment liens have an expiry period of five years, after which a creditor may no longer have the right to enforce the judgment. Contractors who have binding contracts with owners of properties have four months after the last day of labor to claim liens. Those without binding contracts only have 90 days.
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