Recent Changes to Ohio Legal Code Expanded Expungement Qualification

Expungement Qualification

Expungement and Sealing Qualification In Ohio

Do I qualify to have my criminal record sealed and Expunged?

If you are considering an expungement and sealing of a criminal record, you may have already considered the benefits, such as improving employment opportunities, obtaining credit, applying for education programs, renting an apartment, and many other opportunities. However, you may be asking, “Do I qualify to have my criminal record sealed and Expunged?”  There are many legal conditions and you should consider using an experienced Ohio Expungement Lawyer to guide you through the expungement process.  The information below does not include everything, but here are some basic guidelines for expungement qualification in Ohio:

Expungement Qualification in Ohio

There are different qualifications for expungement depending on the category of the type of criminal record.  A person can have and expungement and sealing of the following types of criminal records:

Criminal Convictions: Felonies, Misdemeanors, or Unclassified Misdemeanors

Minor Misdemeanor Convictions: Offenses punishable by fine only, such as Disorderly Conduct, Drug Abuse, Drug Possession, etc…

Dismissed Charges: Dismissed charges, not guilty finding, dismissed after diversion, dismissed after intervention in lieu of conviction, or No Bill. **Although a case may be dismissed with no conviction, a public record will still exist of the charge and/or arrest.

Arrest Only Records: When a person is arrested, released, and no charges are ever filed related to the arrest. (Although no charges were ever filed; a public record of the arrest still exist.

Sealing of Criminal Conviction

  1. You must be an “Eligible Offender”: You must meet the legal definition of an Eligible Offender. An Eligible Offender can have no more than two misdemeanor convictions, OR one misdemeanor conviction and one felony conviction.
  2. Know what a conviction is: A conviction from any county, state, or court in the United States.
  3. Know what is not a conviction? Traffic offenses and minor misdemeanors are not counted as convictions.
  4. When multiple convictions count as one conviction:

    Two or more convictions out of the same incident are treated as one conviction for purposes of applying for record sealing.

    Two or three convictions resulting from the same court proceeding may, but are not required to, be treated like one conviction for expungement purposes, if the convictions were for related criminal acts committed within 90 days of each other.

  5. Offenses Precluded from Expungement: Certain Offenses are never eligible under Ohio Law. Below is a summary of convicitons that do not qualify for expungement / sealing:

    Any Felony 1 or Felony 2 level offense

    Any Felony offense or Misdemeanor 1st Degree offense where the victim was under 18 years old, except Non-Support of Dependants

    Any Offense of Violence, as defined by Ohio Revised Code section 2901.01(A)(9), but there are some exceptions

    Sex Offenses are not eligible, but there are some exceptions

    Serious Traffic Offense, as define by Ohio Law

    See a full list of convictions that cannot be expunged

  6. The Waiting Period for sealing / expungements: After you have fully completed all the requirements of the court in your case and your case has received a “Final Discharge” the waiting period begins:

    Misdemeanor: 1 year after final discharge

    Minor Misdemeanor: 1 year after final discharge

    Felony: 3 years after final discharge

  7. Pending Charges: You are not eligible and do not qualify for an expungement if you have any charges pending against you in any court.

Sealing of Minor Misdemeanor Offenses

  1. You still must meet the definition of an Eligible Offender as described for Criminal Convictions
  2. No Limit Number Misdemeanor Convictions: As long as you meet the Eligible Offender definition regarding criminal convictions, there is no limit on the number of minor misdemeanor convictions that you can have expunged.
  3. Waiting Period: The Waiting Period for minor misdemeanor offenses is 1 year after final discharge.
  4. Pending Charges: Like the criminal conviction, you are not eligible and do not qualify for an expungement if you have any charges pending against you in any court.

Sealing of Dismissed Charges:

Although a case may be dismissed with no conviction, a public record will still exist of the charge and/or arrest.  In this age of the internet, a record of a dismissed charge is enough of a red flag in someone’s background that could cause them to lose a job opportunity.

  1. Any person (one need not be an “Eligible Offender”) who is found not guilty of an offense by a jury, or a court, or who is has had their case dismissed may apply to the court for an order to seal their dismissed record.
  2. No Limit Number Dismissed Charges: There is no limit on the number of dismissed charges that you can have expunged.
  3. No Waiting Period for Dismissed Charge:  There is no waiting period for to expunge / seal a dismissed criminal record.
  4. Waiting Period for No Bill Charge:  There is s 2 year waiting period for a “No Bill” charge
  5. Pending Charges: Like the criminal conviction, you are not eligible and do not qualify for an expungement if you have any charges pending against you in any court.
  6. Multiple Charges Including Dismissed Charges:   When a person is charged with two or more offenses as a result of the same act, and at least one of the charges has a final disposition that is different than the final disposition of other charges, that person may not apply for an expungement and sealing of his record in any of the cases until such time as he would be able to apply to the court and have all of the records in the cases pertaining to those charges expunged and sealed.

Arrest Only Records:

Although a person may have been arrested but formal charges were never pressed against the person, a public record may still exist of the arrest and come up in background checks.

  1. Any person who was arrested by never prosecutor for the offense can file for an expungement / sealing of the arrest record.  The procedures vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the result is the same, to prevent these records from being available to the public.
  2. No Pending Criminal Matter:  There can be no pending investigations or pending criminal charges against you.
  3. Although it is not necessary in every circumstance, it would be advisable to wait until the applicable statute of limitations for the charge has expired.

It Not Enough to Just Be Qualified for Expungement

Ohio Revised Code 2953.32 and 2953.52 require a hearing and procedures related to expungements for criminal charges. The court must consider several factors under the expungement statute when determining whether to grant an expungement and sealing. In addition, the court will consider any objections raised by the prosecutor while imposing a balancing test to weigh the interest of the applicant to have the record expunged and sealed against any legitimate need of the government to maintain those records.

Understand the Value of Expungement – Don’t Lose Your Case and Possibly Ruin Your Only Chance to Have Your Record Sealed

If you lose your expungement case, you can not simply re-file your case. Absent a major change in the law, you will have a much higher burden of proof of if you choose to re-file an expungement after previously being denied by a court. Don’t take a chance on losing your expungement case and ruining your chances of ever obtaining an expungement / sealing of the record.

Leading Record Expungement Attorneys in Ohio

You can’t afford to put off hiring an experienced Ohio expungement attorney. 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 felony theft conviction.