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Facts About Record Expungement in Ohio

Questions About Expungement

What is an Expungement?

In Ohio, expungement is the same as sealing a record. It is a legal process provided under Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code that allows one to have any and all references to a prior criminal conviction cleared and their court file sealed. The result of this process is as if you were never convicted of the crime.

Why get an Expungement?

There are many benefits to having your criminal record expunged. Whether you are applying for a new job, professional license, citizenship, or even an apartment, people reviewing your application may want to know if you have ever been convicted of a criminal charge. If you have a conviction for a criminal charge in your record, it is not likely that you will be chosen for the job, promotion, given your professional license, considered for citizenship, or perhaps even be allowed to rent an apartment. Further, if you are involved in legal proceedings as a party or simply a witness, you will be in question about your past criminal record. If you have convictions in your history, the court or a jury may be unlikely to believe your testimony as a witness or they may doubt the merits of your case if you are a party.

Since the tragic attacks of 9/11, routine background checks of current employees and potential employees have become more common. Several years ago, a simple criminal conviction may not have had any impact on you, but today a criminal conviction may bar you from career opportunities, or advancement, or may cause you to lose your current job. An expungement of a criminal case has many benefits, but perhaps the most valuable, is to be able to deny a conviction when asked by your employer or a potential employer.

If the court deems that an expungement of a criminal record is appropriate, the court must order all official records pertaining to the case sealed and all index references to the case deleted. Upon issuance of the order, the proceedings in the case shall be considered not to have occurred, and the conviction of the person subject to the proceedings shall be sealed.

Expungement of a criminal conviction is an excellent way to put the past behind you and close a chapter on a past mistake. With an expungement of the record, a person can go forward with their life without being haunted by a prior conviction or having to disclose a criminal record.  Expungements can provide a clean slate, piece of mind, and the freedom to pursue career opportunities that may not have been available with a criminal record.

Why spend the money to expunge my record?

If you have a criminal conviction and you do not expunge the record of that offense, you may never know the price of failing to expunge your record…in terms of employment, special licensing, credibility or missed opportunities. While most people expunge their records for employment or career-related reasons, a great many clients wish to expunge their record so that they may have closure and piece of mind for knowing that there is no record of their old mistake.

Will I need to appear in court?

Every case is different and different courts have different requirements regarding hearings for expungements. In many cases, however, we are able to appear on your behalf so that you will not have to appear personally for the hearing. If appearing for a hearing is of concern to you because you are out of town or outside of the State of Ohio, please advise me of this early on in your case.

Who is eligible for an expungement?

You qualify if you meet all of the conditions described in Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code, including:

  • The conviction you are trying to expunge is not one of the crimes precluded by law.
  • You were not subject to a mandatory prison term for the conviction.  (If you were sentenced to prison time, but you were eligible for community control/probation, you would still qualify.)
  • You have any of the following convictions or combination of convictions: one misdemeanor; or one felony; two misdemeanor convictions; or one misdemeanor conviction and one felony conviction.   (A series of 2 or 3 convictions out of the same case shall be considered one conviction under the expungement statute.) (Minor misdemeanors including most traffic offenses do not count as a conviction.)
  • The statutory waiting period has passed for the conviction you seek to expunge.
  • You have no current or criminal charges pending against you.

What if I was charged, but the case was dismissed or I was found not guilty?

If you were charged but the case was dismissed or a court or jury found you not guilty, you can have the records of your charges expunged and sealed.

Do the records just disappear?

Once your criminal record is expunged, nothing will show up when your record is checked. The Ohio statute states the offense shall be treated as if it never occurred. There are a few exceptions to this rule for law enforcement agencies, employers of medical care providers, employers of those who will provide care to minors.  Only under certain circumstances would they be permitted to know if you have a  sealed record.

Can I have my juvenile record expunged?

Yes, depending on the charge, you may be eligible for an expungement if you are found to be a delinquent child (violation of the criminal law) or a juvenile traffic offender (violation of a traffic law) and the court finds that you have rehabilitated to their satisfaction.

Can’t I just represent myself and save money?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “He who represents himself, has a fool for a client.” Expungement requires drafting and filing of a motion (a formal legal document asking the court to take a particular action). The expungement motion will be filed with the court that sentenced you, and it will also have to be served on the prosecutor in some cases, and the probation department. At the expungement hearing, oral or non-oral, the court must be convinced through persuasion and demonstration that your rehabilitation has been obtained and that you are deserving of an expungement. An expungement is a privilege and not a right. The court may deny your expungement if they question that you have met all the qualifications under the Ohio Revised Code, or the court is not satisfied that you have been rehabilitated.

Our knowledge of the law, and our skill in advocacy can provide the court the persuasion it may need to agree to grant your expungement. We will stand by you and guide you through the process from our first contact to the final order of expungement. You can have the confidence that you will receive sound counsel you need to get results.

Disclaimer – Please be aware that this page is not a comprehensive analysis of expungement law or of all types of remedies that may be available to you. This is not legal advice and a consultation with an attorney is always recommended on any legal matter.