EXPUNGEMENT OR SEALING OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
In the past if you have committed only one crime, in most instances you had the right to apply for the sealing or expungement of that record after the passage of a certain amount of time. The record of some crimes cannot be sealed or expunged. Now you can seal the records of one misdemeanor and one felony. The purpose is to allow first or second offenders a second chance when they have demonstrated an ability to stay out of trouble and present little risk of committing another offense.
In Ohio, expungement is known as sealing a record. If granted, sealing results in all reference to a prior criminal conviction being removed from government records and your court file sealed. Law enforcement agencies with information about your conviction are instructed not to reveal that information. The result is supposed to be as if you were never convicted, affording you a fresh start once you have proven you can live within the law.
Once your record is sealed, you may lawfully state that you have no criminal record and were never convicted of the sealed offense. Bear in mind, though, that the records are only sealed. If you commit a new offense the sealed offense can be considered by the court in sentencing and otherwise be used against you. Juvenile offenses are treated differently. If a juvenile record is sealed under ORC 2151.358, the file must be destroyed.
Records of certain offenses cannot be sealed. Sex offenses cannot be sealed. Traffic offenses also cannot be sealed. Felonies of the first and second degree cannot be sealed and certain violent offenses cannot be sealed. The offense you seek to seal must have been a probatable offense. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor at least one year must have passed since you were finally discharged from the last thing you were required to do. For example, if you served 30 days and then were on probation for two years, you could file for sealing of your record one year after you were released from probation. For felony offenses, the time period is three years. You must not have been convicted for any other offense nor have any charges pending against you.
The fact that you are eligible to apply for the sealing of your record does not mean you will get it. The prosecutor has the right to oppose your request. If he does, the court where you were convicted and applied for sealing will hold a hearing on your application. It will be your job and mine at such a hearing to convince the court that you are unlikely to commit another criminal offense and that you deserve to have this one and only (or two) conviction(s) sealed so it doesn't continue to hurt your employment prospects and reputation.
To learn more, visit our Fayette office!
104 East Main Street P.O. Box 40
Fayette, OH 43521