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Can I expunge my criminal conviction in Oregon?

On January 1, 2022, Oregon's expungement law underwent significant changes with the passage of Senate Bill 397, which expanded the number of people who are eligible to clear up their criminal record.  

You must still meet several requirements found in ORS 137.225, Oregon's expungement law.  Here are the four (4) main requirements:  

1. There are no pending criminal charges against you

To be eligible to expunge an Oregon criminal conviction, you cannot have any pending criminal charges against you in any jurisdiction.

This means Oregon, Washington, any other state, or any other federal or tribal court.

Traffic infractions, administrative hearings, and civil lawsuits don't count.  Only criminal charges will prevent you from filing a motion for expungement.

Example:  The day before you are scheduled to file your expungement motion in Washington County Circuit Court, your landlord in Beaverton starts eviction proceedings against you.  Can you still move forward on your motion?  Yes.  Eviction proceedings are not criminal proceedings.  

2. You have complied with the court's sentence

Under ORS 137.225, you are not eligible to file an expungement motion unless you have "fully complied" with the court's sentence.  

This means that you have served all mandatory jail or prison time and you have completed all the terms of your probation, such as alcohol treatment or domestic violence treatment.  

I completed my sentence except for paying off my fines.  Am I still eligible?  

Yes.

Although paying off your fines is a condition of your sentence, a judge cannot deny your expungement motion  just because you owe the court money.  This is one of the biggest changes brought about by Senate Bill 397.  

3. You have complied with the crime-free waiting period

In Oregon, you must have spent a certain number of crime-free years in the community without committing any new crimes before you are eligible to vacate your past crimes.  

The more serious your past crime, the longer you have to wait.  

  • 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

Under ORS 137.225, the waiting period starts the date of your conviction or the date you are released from custody (whichever is later).   

Example #1: You pleaded guilty to unlawful delivery of cocaine (Class B felony) in Lane County Circuit Court in 2015.  You are released from prison in May 2018.  You are eligible to expunge your conviction in May 2013.  

Example #2You pleaded guilty to theft in the third degree (Class C misdemeanor) in Marion County Circuit Court in 2020.  You are sentenced to jail and released in February 2021.  You are eligible in February 2022.

I pleaded no contest to a crime.  Does this count as a conviction?

Yes.

Under Oregon law, a no contest plea (also known as a plea of nolo contendere) is legally equivalent to a conviction.  This is because a defendant who pleads no contest gives up her right to go to trial and gives up most of the same rights as a defendant who pleads guilty. 

I pleaded guilty to a city municipal code violation.  Does this count as a conviction?

Yes.

Under ORS 137.225, you cannot expunge your conviction if you have been committed of another “criminal offense” during the waiting period.  

The Oregon courts have made clear that an “offense” includes not just crimes but violations, which include local city violations such as public urination. 

Example:  You were convicted of robbery in the third degree (Class C felony) in July 2017.  In 2020, you plead guilty to public urination, a violation of the Eugene municipal code.  In July 2022, you file a motion for expungement.  Are you eligible?  No.  Your public urination violation interrupted the 5-year waiting period, so now you have to wait until 2025 before you are eligible.  

4. You have not been convicted of certain serious offenses

You can never expunge certain felonies and other serious offenses--regardless of how much time has passed.

This long list of crimes includes virtually all Class A felonies, most sex crimes, some Class B felonies, a few Class C felonies, and DUI and other driving-related offenses. 

NOTE:  Even if you satisfy all four (4) requirements, this does not guarantee that the Court will grant your expungement motion.  This just means that you are legally eligible under Oregon law.  

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