Expungement / Record Sealing in Ohio
If you were convicted of a criminal offense in Ohio, or if you were charged with a criminal offense and had the offense dismissed, you may be eligible to have the public records of your conviction removed. In Ohio, the removal of the conviction from public records is known as expungement or sealing of the record. The phrase used more frequently in the Ohio Revised Code is “sealing of the record”, but that phrase and “expungement” are frequently used interchangeably.
The United States seems to be the land of second chances, and an expungement can be a great second chance, but an expungement is not granted automatically. You must apply for an expungement, and, even if you are “eligible”, the judge does not have to grant the expungement. Accordingly, you may want representation by a Columbus expungement attorney who practices in central Ohio courts.
Attorneys for Expungement / Record Sealing in Central Ohio
The Dominy Law Firm has experience with expungements. Our firm only practices criminal defense, and we regularly represent clients who want to seal the records for their criminal cases. We practice in Franklin County, Delaware County, and other courts in central Ohio.
Eligibility for Record Sealing / Expungement in Ohio
If your case was dismissed, if you were found Not Guilty, or if the grand jury declined to indict you (a “no bill"), you are eligible to apply to have the public records for your case sealed. If you were convicted of an offense and you want to apply for sealing of a record, you must be an “eligible offender”.
An “eligible offender” is a person with one or more criminal convictions, but not more than five felony convictions, if all the convictions are for misdemeanors or felonies of the fourth or fifth degree. What counts as a prior conviction is complicated. A conviction in another state counts as a conviction. Convictions for traffic offenses do not count as convictions, with some exceptions (including but not limited to DUI/OVI, Street Racing, Hit Skip, Driving Under OVI or ALS Suspension, and felony traffic offenses).
Some offenses are not eligible for record sealing / expungement. Those offenses include offenses of violence and felony sex offenses, as well as all offenses listed in section 2953.36 of the Ohio Revised Code. Offenses listed in that section include, but are not limited to, most sex offenses, most offenses of violence, offenses which require a mandatory prison term, offenses in which the victim was under 18 years old, and convictions for first degree felonies and second degree felonies. In addition, traffic offenses cannot be expunged or sealed.
The Process for Ohio Expungement / Record Sealing
Before you can apply for an expungement, the waiting period must be over. For a dismissal or Not Guilty verdict, there is no waiting period. For a misdemeanor conviction, the waiting period is one year. For one felony conviction, the waiting period is three years. For two felony convictions, the waiting period is four years. For three felonies, the waiting period is five years.
After the waiting period expires, you must file an application to have the records sealed/expunged. Most courts also require you to file a more lengthy worksheet with the application. Next, a probation officer completes a background check and prepares a written report for the court. The court then schedules an expungement hearing. At the hearing, the judge will ask the defense and the prosecution for arguments regarding whether the expungement should be granted. The judge then determines whether you are eligible and decides whether the expungement is granted. To make that decision, the judge determines whether you have been satisfactorily rehabilitated and weighs your interests in having the records sealed against the interests of the government in maintaining the records of your conviction.
The Effect of Having Records Sealed / Expunged
If the judge grants the expungement, the judge orders all official records pertaining to the case sealed. The order applies only to public records, not any private records. Except for limited exceptions described in section 2953.32 of the Ohio Revised Code, the records are sealed, and the proceedings in the case are then considered not to have occurred. In an application for employment, a person with an expunged record may not be questioned regarding a conviction which has been sealed.
Representation for Expungement / Record Sealing in Columbus and Central Ohio
Although a lawyer is not required for the expungement process, you may feel like you would benefit from representation. If so, the Dominy Law Firm can help. We have been representing clients for expungement/record sealing since 1997. To learn more about our firm, please see the About Us page of this website. In expungement matters, we charge one flat fee for representation. To schedule a free phone consultation regarding your expungement, please submit a CONTACT FORM or call us at 614-717-1177.