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Eligibility for Expungements Expanded

The Oregon Expungement laws received a massive overhaul during the 2021 Legislative Session, and the changes are in favor of clearing an individual’s criminal history more easily. The new expungement law went into effect on January 1, 2022. This blog post gives a brief overview of the changes to the Oregon expungement law.

Eligibility for Expungements Expanded

First, the conviction a person wants to expunge must be eligible for expungement. To determine whether a given conviction is eligible for expungement, you should talk to one of our attorneys. Typically, the first conversation with our attorneys about an expungement can be over the phone, so no in-person appointment would be necessary.

Second, with the new changes, the timelines for expunging convictions depend on whether the individual went to jail or prison, or whether they had a probationary sentence. If the person went to jail or prison, the countdown starts when they finish their sentence; otherwise, it counts down from the date of conviction. This is also the period where a person must be conviction free to be eligible to expunge the type of charge.

Class B felony: 7 years

Class C felony: 5 years

Class A misdemeanor: 3 years

Class B misdemeanor: 1 year

Class C misdemeanor: 1 year

Contempt of Court: 1 year

So, if a person has an eligible class B felony, and that person gets a class C misdemeanor conviction 6 years after getting out of prison, then the class B felony could not be expunged yet. The person would then need to wait another 7 years after the C misdemeanor conviction to expunge the Class B felony.

This timing is still far better than the previous expungement law. Under the prior law, if a person had more than one conviction, they would have to wait at least 10 years before they could expunge anything from their record. The new law shrinks that waiting period, making it easier for people to get their lives back on track.

If the person was arrested for a crime but the prosecuting attorney does not file charges, then the person must wait 60 days to seek an expungement of the arrest.

If charges are brought by the prosecuting attorney, and either (A) the charges are dismissed later or (B) the person is acquitted of the charges, the arrest and charge can be expunged.

Reduced Cost

Another beneficial change to the expungement law is that the cost of doing an expungement was reduced. Under the prior law, a person would need to file a $281 filing fee to remove a criminal conviction. That requirement removed; there is no filing fee for any expungement. Under both laws, the person pays a fee to the Oregon State Police. The prior law stated the fee was $80; the new law states that the Oregon State Police may only charge the cost of conducting the criminal history check. Per new Oregon State Police policy, that fee is $33.

Established Period for the Prosecutor to Respond

Lastly, after filing the necessary documents with the court, the prosecuting attorney has 120 days to respond to the documents. If they do not object before 120 days are up, then the expungement goes through. If the prosecuting objects to the expungement, then the court would set a hearing to determine whether the expungement is appropriate under the circumstances.

If you want to take advantage of the new expungement law in January 2022 or later, call our office to speak with an attorney to determine whether your criminal history can be expunged. Our attorney will assess your situation and give you a checklist that will get you prepared to clear your record and truly have a “New Year, New You.”