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Am I Eligible to Expunge a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Governor Kitzhaber in Office Signing New Law into Effect

Am I Eligible to Expunge a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Governor Kitzhaber Signing a New Law Into Effect

No State shall…pass any…ex post facto law… –U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10

Whether your or a loved one’s criminal conviction qualifies for expungement in part depends on what type of crime it was. (See, Oregon Expungement – Can I Get My Record Expunged? | Pt. 2 – Type of Crime, for further information).

E.g., class-A felonies are not expungeable, certain class-B felonies are only expungeable after about 20 years, and most class-C felonies and misdemeanors are expungeable after one to ten years.

Note: This article doesn’t apply to arrests because the crime classification doesn’t matter for arrests. See ORS 137.225(1)(b) and (5)  You can expunge an arrest if other statutory criteria are met (not having any pending charges, an adequate lapse of time without criminal charges, etc.). This article only pertains to to convictions.

So if the law has changed since you were convicted, what does that mean for you or a loved one?

Short Answer 

It means that if your crime was eligible at the time of conviction, it doesn’t matter that the crime was later made more serious (reclassified). For example, if it was increased from a Class-C felony to a Class-B felony, then you can expunge it as if it were still a Class-C crime.

But: if the legislature specifically named that crime in the expungement statute (ORS 137.225) as not being expungeable, that conviction cannot be expunged. See State v. Beck, 254 Or. App. 609, 295 P.3d 169 (2013) [criminally negligent homicide cannot be expunged because the legislature specifically excluded that crime in ORS 137.225(7)].

…if your crime was eligible at the time of conviction, it doesn’t matter that the crime was later made more serious (reclassified). For example, if it was increased from a Class-C felony to a Class-B felony, then you can expunge it as if it were still a Class-C crime.

To Illustrate 

1. Expungeable:

Dawn pled guilty to two class-C felonies in 1996. In 1998, the legislature increased the penalties and made that crime a Class-B felony. In 2007, Dawn seeks to expunge her record. She is immediately eligible to expunge her conviction, and doesn’t have to wait twenty years (2016) to do so.

2. Not Expungeable:

Darren pled guilty to two class-C felonies in 1996 (Distribution of controlled substances). In 1998, the legislature amended the expungement statute specifically stating in the expungement statute ORS 137.225 that convictions for distribution of controlled substances are not expungeable because of the renewed effort on the war on drugs and the hope that with tougher penalties this time will be different.

In 2007, Darren seeks to expunge his record. He can’t ever expunge his record unless the legislature changes the law in the future. His only legal options are to apply for a pardon from the governor, or if he wishes to regain his gun rights, to petition for his restoration of firearm rights under ORS 166.274.

In sum, even though the law has changed making your original conviction more serious, you or a loved one may still be Eligible For Expungement. Contact an attorney to verify this in a particular case, however, or if you opt to proceed pro se, research ORS 137.225 and case law to verify the particular case.

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

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 photograph, “Wildfire Protection Act” by #ODF is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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