You can set aside (i.e. expunge) your criminal conviction in Oregon by filing a written motion in the court in which you were convicted.
You have to provide a copy of your motion to the county prosecuting attorney's office and local enforcement agency, which has the opportunity to object.
ORS 137.225 is the statute that describes the expungement process in Oregon.
What court do I file my motion?
You must file a motion to expunge your conviction in the court in which you are convicted.
For example, if you were convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in Lane County, you would return to Lane County Circuit Court to file your motion.
How much does it cost to file a motion?
You do not have to pay a court fee to file a motion to expunge your criminal conviction. For years, this was not the case, but Senate Bill 397 (which took effect on January 1, 2022) eliminated the expungement filing fee in all Oregon courts.
The whole process isn't entirely free, however. You have to pay an $80 fee to the Oregon Department of State Police to perform a criminal background check, which gets to sent to the prosecutor and the court.
I don't live in Oregon anymore. Can I still expunge my conviction?
There is no in-state residency requirement under ORS 137.225.
It doesn't matter whether you now live in Washington or Alaska or California or even outside the United States. If you were convicted of a crime in Oregon, you can expunge your conviction in Oregon.
The same is true for filing a motion to reduce your felony conviction under ORS 161.705, but not for filing a motion to restore your firearm rights. To file a motion to restore your gun rights, you must be an Oregon resident.
Am I eligible to expunge my Oregon conviction?
Generally speaking, you can expunge Class B felonies after 7 years and Class C felonies after 5 years. You can almost never expunge Class A felonies and serious sex offenses.
As for misdemeanors, you can expunge Class A misdemeanors after 3 years and low-level Class B or C misdemeanors after only 1 year. You cannot expunge DUI-related crimes.
You can read more here about the expungement eligibility process in Oregon.
How do I file an expungement motion?
First, you have to prepare a motion to set aside your criminal conviction and an affidavit under penalty of perjury verifying that you meet all the statutory eligibility requirements under ORS 137.225.
(Although not required, you should also try to get a copy of the police report from your case, because this speeds up the process).
Next, you file a copy of your motion and supporting documents (i.e. affidavit, proposed order) in the correct Oregon circuit court. At the same time, you have to serve all your documents (including a set of fingerprints) to the district attorney's office and the Oregon State Police. Law enforcement needs your fingerprints to ensure that court will be considering the correct record (i.e. your record) and not someone's else record.
Upon receiving your motion, the Oregon State Police will conduct a nation-wide background check through the FBI and other state police databases.
Can prosecutors object to my motion?
Even if you are legally eligible to expunge your conviction, the prosecutor has the right to object to your motion.
By law, prosecutors must file an written objection with the Court within 120 days of receiving your motion. Otherwise, they waive any objections to your motion.
Can the victim object to my motion?
Under Oregon law, the victim of the crime has the right to make a statement at the expungement hearing before the Court decides whether to grant your motion. The prosecutor is required to notify the victim of the time and place of the hearing and must provide the victim with a copy of your motion.
Will I have to go to Court?
That depends primarily on whether the prosecutor's office objects to your motion.
If no, probably not. If yes, then you will have to come to court and argue why expungement is necessary.
How long does the expungement process take?
Typically the expungement process takes about 3 to 6 months, but some counties do take longer.
Can I expunge multiple convictions at the same time?
There is no limit as to how many criminal convictions you can seek to expunge at any one time, assuming that you are eligible to expunge each case.
Furthermore, there is no limit as to how many times you can file a motion to expunge the same criminal conviction.
Will the Court expunge my conviction?
The trial judge has the discretion to expunge your conviction if you meet all the statutory eligibility requirements under ORS 137.225. In other words, the court can say yes or no. Judges look at each case individually because no two cases—and no two people—are the same.
Oregon law requires judges to consider your "circumstances and behavior" from the date of your conviction in deciding whether to grant your expungement motion. A judge may consider, for example, subsequent criminal conduct.
A judge, however, cannot consider simple motor vehicle violations or your failure to pay off court fines or comply with other financial obligations, because these factors do not create "a risk to public safety."
Example: In January 2021, you file a motion in Washington County Circuit Court to expunge a Class C felony that you committed in 2013. The judge denies your motion because you $5,000 in back child support and because you've received 15 speeding tickets in the past 8 years. Can you appeal the judge's decision? Yes, because the judge considered factors that are not related to public safety, in violation of ORS 137.225.
What happens when my criminal record is expunged?
If the Court grants your motion for expungement, the clerk's office will send a certified copy of the order to the Oregon Department of State Police, which will update its computerized criminal history database.
Expungement removes a conviction from your court record. Furthermore, all official records of the incident are sealed, including your court records and arrest records. This means your criminal conviction or your arrest will show up on an FBI or Oregon State Police background check.
This also means that you can legally deny that you were convicted of this crime or that you were even arrested for this offense. You can now legally state on a job application, a rental application, or in a security clearance application that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.
Once your conviction is expunged, your constitutional rights are restored. You get the following rights back:
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to vote
- The right to possess firearms
- The right to run for public office