After a prescribed period of time has lapsed since a crime, convicted persons are sometimes able to successfully request a felony be removed from their records. This process, called expungement, can help restore the credibility of felons who later seek employment, enroll in school or hope to purchase a home. The requirements are strict, so the majority of convicted persons will likely not qualify for removal. Further, the time requirement alone makes for a frustrating waiting period before the request may even be considered.
Determine if you meet Oregon’s eligibility requirements. Oregon does not allow expungement for all felonies, so you need to review § 137.225 of the O.R.S. and locate the felony charge on the list of eligible crimes. By default, no Class A or Class B felony convictions qualify for expungement, although arrests and charges that resulted in a dismissal may qualify. Only Class C felonies qualify for expungement, except crimes that are sexual in nature and against a minor child, and crimes that constitute child endangerment (defined by ORS § 163.575 (1)(a)) or child abuse (defined by ORS § 419B.005). If the crime is not listed as eligible, then it cannot be expunged.
Wait three full years after you have completed all stipulations of your sentence. All jail/prison time, community service, and other sentences must be completed prior to your request. When three years and one day have passed, you are then eligible to apply for an expungement.
Contact the county District Attorney’s office (also called the DA’s or Prosecuting Attorney‘s office) in the county where you were arrested and charged to request a copy of your records. At the very least, you will need your arrest record, formal charge, final disposition and the original copy of your fingerprints. You may need to pay a nominal fee for the retrieval, reproduction and mailing of these records. If you are given a choice, request a certified copy of your records; these will cost a bit more, but non-certified copies are not accepted for expungement requests.
Note that if the DA’s office will not release the original copy of your fingerprints, you will need to have yourself re-fingerprinted by an approved agency at your own expense.
Request blank expungement petition forms from your local county clerk’s office. The county DA’s office may also supply these upon request. If neither office has the necessary forms, you can locate them at a local legal form supply store. You may also be able to locate the forms online. Be sure to obtain the forms for the county where you were arrested and tried, if this differs from your county of residence.
Complete and sign the forms, and attach your criminal records to the back. Review the form instructions to ensure you have included all necessary records; otherwise, your petition may be rejected. Make a copy of the entire packet and retain the copy for your personal records.
Submit the original signed forms, the case records, fingerprints and a certified check in the amount if $80.00 (as of 2010) made payable to the Oregon State Police to the county DA’s office. If your arrest resulted in a dismissal of the charge(s) against you, you are not required to pay the fee. The DA’s office will continue the expungement process on your behalf, and if your request for an expungement is granted, you will be notified when the Order to Set Aside Conviction is signed. An additional $250 fee may be required upon the hearing of your petition, which is not refundable if your petition is denied.