Expungement and cleaning up your criminal record
If you have prior criminal convictions or violations Matthew Watkins may be able to help you get a clean slate. For example, some crimes are eligible to be completely expunged from your record, others may be eligible to be reduced to a lesser charge after the fact, and the recent passage of a new law allows a person to petition for judicial review of old convictions in the interests of justice. Here is a brief explanation of some of these options.
An expungement is a court order that seals your record of arrest in prior conviction. An expungement not only removes the conviction from your criminal record, it also allows you to treat the conviction as if it never happened.
Expungements in Oregon are governed by ORS 137.225. Conditions that qualify for an expungement become eligible after a certain amount of time has lapsed after the conviction. The minimum amount of time it takes to be eligible for expungement varies depending on the severity of the criminal offense. For violations or Class C or B misdemeanors a person must wait one year after the date of conviction. For Class A misdemeanors, the length of time is 3 years from the date of conviction. For Class C felonies, the length of time is five years, and for Class B felonies the length of time is seven years. If you are convicted of a new crime, after the crime you’re trying to have expunged, the clock is reset for the minimum length of time.
Class A felonies, traffic crimes, and most sex crimes are not eligible to be expunged.
Reduction of certain felonies to misdemeanors
Some felony convictions that are not eligible for expungement are otherwise eligible for reduction to misdemeanor under ORS 161.705 or ORS 161.710. This process most often involves felony traffic offenses because there are ineligible for expungement under ORS 137.225. It’s important to note that this reduction can occur even after the conviction for the felony offense. In order for a court to grant a motion to reduce a felony to misdemeanor, the defendant must usually show a substantial period of time in which they have not engaged in any further criminal activity.
Senate Bill 819
In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 819. The new law allows a person who has been previously convicted to petition the court for review of the conviction in the interests of justice. Long gives the courts broad authority to review a conviction and grant relief, including but not limited to reducing the conviction to a lesser offence or completely removing the conviction from a person’s criminal history. The effect this law will have is still developing, because it has only been in effect since early 2022, but it does allow a felony conviction for something that is otherwise ineligible for expungement to be reduced or removed from a person’s criminal history.
If all else fails, a person who’s been convicted of a crime is always able to petition the governor and ask for executive clemency, also known as a pardon. Whether to grant clemency or not is usually a political decision. However, the governor retains a broad authority to pardon anyone for just about any offense. If a pardon is granted for an old conviction, it removes the effect of that conviction from the person’s criminal history.
Matthew Watkins may be able to help you get a clean slate. Call today to find out.