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Can I Expunge a Contempt of Court?

Black and White Clay Art Piece Called Contempt

Can I Expunge a Contempt of Court?


Clay Statue Art Piece Titled Contempt

It’s quite common for people to have a less-than-perfect record (contempt violations, probation violations, or even revocations) when applying for expungement. So this shouldn’t discourage you or a loved one from seeking to Expunge a Criminal Record. But note that, especially for people who have had several contempt charges or probation violations, it’s advisable to consult with an Oregon expungement lawyer for counsel and advisement.

This article addresses two questions, with short answers given immediately below:

1. Can I expunge a contempt conviction?

Perhaps, but you’ll have to convince the court. Contempt charges aren’t covered under the expungement statute (ORS 137.225), so technically speaking you can’t “expunge” (set aside) it. Instead, one has to petition the court to otherwise seal or set aside contempt charges on different grounds, though the effect is similar to an expungement–the records are no longer publicly available and the files are sealed. Note that expunging contempt arrests is usually not a problem.

2. Will a contempt of court conviction prevent me from getting my record expunged? 

Probably not, practically speaking. Even if you have a contempt charge, you can still apply for expungement. But if a hearing ensues on your expungement the judge has the discretion to deny your expungment based on that contempt charge or other matters. But this usually doesn’t happen.

The reason a contempt charge or probation violation or revocation isn’t a problem is that for most people, a hearing never occurs. So most people should apply for expungement even though you have a contempt charge–or a probation violation, probation revocation, or had less than perfect behavior on probation and after sentencing. As long as you eventually completed your sentence fully, the odds are on your side.

The Utility of an Expungement Attorney 

Even though statistics are favorable, people who have had some trouble completing their sentencing in a timely way should consult an Oregon expungement lawyer early because the attorney can advise on (i) whether your particular record is likely to be “flagged” either by the court or the D.A., (ii) options to minimize that occurring, and (iii) a plan to deal with that contingency. I’ve seen people petition the court themselves, only to have the D.A. oppose their motion, and they are scrambling to prepare for essentially a mini-trial at the last minute. This is no recipe for success, and it can mean ad nauseam, lost time, hundreds to thousands of dollars, lost energy, and great stress.

(For a more information regarding what a hearing entails and information, see the article: Oregon Expungement – Can I Get My Record Expunged? | Part 4 – Outcome).

It’s quite common for people to have a less-than-perfect record (contempt violations, probation violations, or even revocations) when applying for expungement.

More In-Depth Discussion and Information 

Why can’t contempt convictions or charges be expunged? Because they are not technically speaking “crimes” or criminal matters. See State of Oregon v. Coughlin ____ Or. App. ____ (2013) (holding that for purposes of expungement, contempt is not a criminal “offense”, which is either a violation, misdemeanor, or felony. Therefore, a person is eligible even though they have a contempt conviction).

One of our passions is assisting persons recover from past mistakes and reclaim their good standing. Call or write us today regarding your or a loved one’s expungement.

Essent Law llc offers offers Oregon expungement attorney services in Marion, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Lane, and other counties, including the cities of Portland, Salem, and Eugene and surrounding areas.

The above photograph is entitled, “Contempt” by Felicano Guimaraes, and is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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