Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Oregon

The basics of Oregon's expungement or set-aside laws for adult criminal and arrest records.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated August 25, 2023

In Oregon, a person can ask the court to expunge or "set aside" certain criminal and arrest records. While limitations exist, the state's record-clearing laws have been expanded in recent years and apply to non-conviction and conviction records. Learn more about eligibility requirements, waiting periods, and the process for requesting a set-aside order in Oregon.

How Does Expungement Work in Oregon?

Expungement represents a process that hides or seals criminal records from public view. Criminal records can significantly limit a person's ability to secure employment, housing, educational opportunities, professional licenses, and public benefits. Sealing one's record may remove these barriers.

Instead of the term "expungement," Oregon law refers to "setting aside" an adult criminal or arrest record, but it has the same effect. When a set-aside order is granted, the court seals all official records of the case and directs other agencies to do the same. This means the public can no longer view the record and "for purposes of the law, [the person] shall be deemed not to have been previously convicted, arrested, cited or charged." In most cases, people can say they've never been arrested or convicted of a crime.

(Or. Rev. Stat. § 137.225 (2023).)

Who Is Eligible for an Expungement or Set Aside in Oregon?

Eligibility for a set-aside order generally depends on a few factors, including the result of the case (convicted or not convicted), the offense level (felony or misdemeanor), the crime, and, if applicable, completion of all sentencing terms and a waiting period. The law also requires that the person have a clean record before and at the time of applying.

Clean Record at Time of Application

At the time of applying for a set-aside order, a person cannot have any pending charges. The law also imposes a "look-back" period of clear conduct, the length of which depends on the seriousness of the record sought to be expunged. Below are the "look-back periods" by offense level:

  • Class B felony—seven years
  • Class C felony—five years
  • Class A misdemeanor—three years, and
  • Class B or C misdemeanor or non-traffic-related violation—one year.

Below are additional requirements based on the type of record sought to be expunged.

Setting Aside an Arrest Record Where No Charges Resulted

For a person seeking to set aside an arrest record where no charges resulted, the person can't apply until 60 days have passed since the prosecutor indicated no charges would be filed.

Setting Aside a Dismissal or an Acquittal

In cases involving a dismissal or acquittal, the person can apply immediately. DUI charges dismissed as part of a diversion program, however, don't qualify for a set-aside order.

Setting Aside a Conviction

For convictions, the person must first make sure the conviction is eligible for expungement. Then, if eligible and before applying, the person must have completed:

  • their entire sentence, including any time on probation and payment of all financial obligations (such as fines and restitution), and
  • the required wait period for that offense class.

Waiting periods and eligible offenses are described in the next section.

What Convictions Are Eligible for Expungement in Oregon? Can Felonies Be Set Aside?

Oregon doesn't allow expungement of any Class A felony convictions. Beyond this blanket restriction, the rules vary. Most misdemeanor convictions and violations qualify for expungement, as well as some Class B and C felony convictions.

Ineligible Convictions

The following convictions don't qualify for expungement in Oregon:

  • class A felonies
  • person felonies (there are nearly 100 such felonies)
  • misdemeanor crimes against children or the elderly
  • most sex crimes, and
  • traffic convictions.

Section 137.225 of the Oregon Revised Statutes contains a list of ineligible offenses. The Oregon Judicial Branch also maintains a list of ineligible offenses in its Criminal or Arrest Record Set Aside Packet.

Wait Periods for Eligible Convictions

For eligible convictions, certain wait periods apply depending on the offense level of the conviction the person wants to set aside. A person can't apply for a set aside until the following time periods have passed since their "most recent" conviction or release date:

  • seven years for a Class B felony
  • five years for a Class C felony
  • three years for a Class A misdemeanor, and
  • one year for a Class B or C misdemeanor or a violation.

Say, for example, a person is convicted of a class A misdemeanor and serves jail time. The person will need to wait three years after being released from jail to apply for a set aside (assuming it's an eligible offense). If that person receives another conviction, the time period starts from the date of that new conviction or release date (as that is the "most recent" one).

In all cases, it's the later of the two dates—conviction or release date—that applies. Also, if a person received probation and had it revoked, the person can't apply until three years have passed since the date of revocation.

(Or. Rev. Stat. § 137.225 (2023).)

How to File for a Set Aside or Expungement in Oregon

Several steps must be completed to apply for and receive a set-aside order. After determining one's record is eligible, the person must:

  • complete a "Motion to Set Aside" form provided by the court
  • get fingerprinted and send a copy of their fingerprints to the Department of State Police, and
  • file the motion with the court and mail a copy to the district attorney involved in the case.

The district attorney has 120 days to object, and if an objection is made, the court holds a hearing. When there's no objection, the court may order the set aside without a hearing.

A person should apply in the court of the conviction or, for an arrest record where no conviction occurred, in the court of the county where the arrest occurred. The Oregon Judicial Branch provides an online packet with instructions and forms for those seeking an adult set-aside order. Some counties have their own forms, so be sure to check the local court's website or contact the clerk.

Getting Legal Help

Cleaning up your criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Oregon—or for advice about your personal situation—contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way. You might also qualify for free or low-cost assistance with a legal aid organization or a nonprofit that provides expungement clinics, such as the PCC Legal Resource Center (Portland) or the Oregon Justice Resource Center.

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