Oregon Law has allowed for people to “expunge,” or seal, the record of their arrest and conviction for certain crimes. Generally speaking, misdemeanors and Class C Felonies can be expunged from a person’s record after a period of time, either three or ten years, depending on the circumstances. Some offenses, such as traffic crimes and crimes involving child abuse can never be removed.
Sex crimes have long been excluded from expungeable offenses. However, in this legislative session, the Legislature approved House Bill 3327, which allows for some sex offenses to be expunged.
House Bill 3327 allows for two classes of sex offenses to be expunged.
The new law allows misdemeanor sex offenses where the sexual contact was consensual and where there was less than five years difference in age to be expunged. However, the offender must have received relief from sex offender registration and have no other convictions for non-expungeable sex crimes. This new provision also applies to the Class C felony crimes of Rape in the Third Degree and Sodomy in the Third Degree.
The legislature also chose to allow certain people to expunge Class C felony sex crimes under certain conditions. First, the Class C felony sex crime must have been committed when a person was under 16 years of age. Second, the offense must have involved a person less than three years younger and the victim must have been over the age of 12. Third, the act must have been consensual. Fourth, the person must not have any convictions for non-expungeable sex crimes.
As an Oregon expungement lawyer, Mr. O’Rourke sees this is a positive step forward in recognizing the importance of allowing people to remove crimes from their record if the offenses are aberrations from a normally law abiding life or when the offense or offenses are long in the past. This is particularly true of sex offense convictions from a person’s youth, which is what the new law is tailored to address. A sex crime conviction can be very difficult to explain to a prospective employer, even if there are significant mitigating circumstances.
There are other anomalies in the expungement statute that await legislative action. For instance, a person convicted of Felony Driving While Suspended cannot ever remove that felony from their record, effectively branding them as felons forever, when people with far more serious convictions can erase their records. James F. O’Rourke, Jr. and Associates hopes that the legislature will continue to expand the expungement statute to allow deserving people relief from the stigma of a criminal conviction.
By James F. O’Rourke Jr.
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