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Oregon Legislators Are Working to Improve Oregon’s Expungement Law

Oregon’s Expungement Law (ORS 137.225) provides a vehicle for people to erase convictions for certain felonies and misdemeanors, as well as arrests in cases that do not result in convictions.

Our law firm frequently assists clients in seeking expungement. The expungement law has been amended many times over the last several decades. At times, the law has been broadened to make it more accessible. We are glad to see that Oregon Legislators are now taking steps to broaden the expungement law, shorten some of the waiting periods, and eliminate some of the obstacles that have made it difficult for people to expunge their convictions and arrests.

Last Wednesday, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 397 on a bipartisan vote of 24-5. This bill adjusts policies for motions on certain past convictions which contain arrests, citations, charges, and more for Oregon citizens, expanding their opportunity to erase prior criminal convictions off of their records, offering them a chance to break away from labels that no longer define them.

Oregonians have been stymied by certain elements of the expungement law, and fortunately help is on the way. Currently the statute forces Oregonians to wait up to 20 years to expunge certain convictions, much longer than in some other States. Additional stumbling blocks take the form of filing fees and background check fees, which many find unaffordable.

The costs associated with the expungement process particularly make it harder for low-income Oregonians and people of color to follow through with their expungements. Low-income Oregonians make up a large portion of the 1.5 million Oregonians who might take advantage of the option of expungement, if these barriers were removed.

The financial and other barriers to expungement make it hard for the least fortunate Oregonians to secure employment and housing opportunities and continue on with their lives.

Senate Bill 397 will shorten some of the waiting periods, remove filing fees, and allow Oregonians to finally get a clean slate to pursue employment they may not have been able to secure before.

Everyone makes mistakes. We applaud the legislators who are working to expand the ability of Oregonians to expunge their past records, and enable many to regain opportunities to establish a more successful future.

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