Can You Seal and Expunge a Domestic Violence Conviction in Ohio?
Depending on how a case is ultimately resolved, it may be possible to have a misdemeanor criminal record for domestic violence expunged and sealed in Ohio. Domestic violence charges in Ohio can be filed either as misdemeanor or felony. The key consideration for eligibility for expungement, is not the original charge, but what was the final outcome of the case.
Dismissed and Non-Conviction Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic Violence charges that do not result in a conviction are eligible to be Sealed, also known as Expunged. These records may result from:
- An arrest only
- Dismissed charges
- Not guilty findings
- No bills by grand jury
- Bail forfeitures
- Diversion program records
Regardless, that they did not result in a conviction, they are still public records and visible to the public until action is taken to seal and expunge the record. It would be advisable to wait until the statute of limitations for filing of these offenses expire.
Felony Domestic Violence Convictions
If a person receives a conviction for a Felony Domestic Violence, the conviction is not eligible for expungement under current Ohio expungement statutes. However, if the case was reduced or plead down to a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, the offense may be eligible as described below.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Convictions
There are two types of misdemeanor domestic violence charges in Ohio.
1st Degree Misdemeanor
A conviction for a violation of 2919.25(A)or(B) is a 1st degree misdemeanor (“M1”) when (A) a person knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member, or (B) a person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member. A criminal record of a conviction for Domestic Violence M1 offenses is currently not eligible for expungement and sealing in Ohio. However, it is not unusual that the facts of a case do not support a charge for Domestic Violence M1, and the defense lawyer and prosecutor may agree to a Plea Bargain to a lesser offense of Domestic Violence, misdemeanor of the 4th degree (“M4”). These Domestic Violence M4 convictions are eligible for expungement.
4th Degree Misdemeanor
A conviction for violation of 2919.25(C) is a 4th degree misdemeanor when a person by threat or force, knowingly caused a family or household member to believe that the person would cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member. A record of conviction for Domestic Violence M4 that involves only threatening another person with harm is eligible for expungement and sealing of record in Ohio.
Be Prepared – The Prosecutors Will Oppose Domestic Violence Expungements
Regardless of the facts of the case, the degree of offense, or if the charge was dismissed, be prepared that prosecutors will file objections and oppose the application for expungement. Prosecutors typical objection alleges the government has legitimate interests in maintaining a person’s domestic violence record because of the statutory necessity of police being able to access the past histories of violence of the people they are investigating and the statutory necessity of courts being able to access the past histories of violence of the people appearing in arraignment in order to set bond on crimes of domestic violence. The state argues their interests outweighs the interest of an individual in having their domestic violence records sealed. (State of Ohio v. Draper, 2015-Ohio-1781)
We have been successful in overcoming these arguments by requiring courts to follow the requirements of the Ohio expungement statute and demonstrate that our client’s interest out-weigh any speculative interest of the state.
Domestic Violence Records Requires Experienced Record Sealing Attorneys
Don’t let a criminal record for domestic violence ruin your life, your family, or your career future. Put our years of experience to work for you. Our law firm has been in business since 1988, and we know the laws related to Ohio expungement and criminal record sealing. Contact our law firm for a confidential and free expungement consultation to determine if you are eligible for an expungement and sealing of your domestic violence conviction.