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Expansion of Ohio Expungement Statute Increases Number of Eligible Drug Convictions

With the expansion of the Expungement Statute by House Bill 1, people with multiple fourth-degree (F4) and fifth-degree felony (F5) convictions are now eligible to have their drug convictions expunged, provided they meet the conditions of the statute. This includes Felony 4th degree drug convictions and Felony 5th-degree drug offenses. Therefore, it becomes important to know which Felony drug charges are eligible for expungement. (Felony 3rd-degree DRUG offense may be eligible for expungement, but there are limits on these offenses, and an F3 conviction limits the total number of expungements a person can have.) (Please note: the legal process for “Sealing of Records” are commonly referred as “Expungement” in Ohio.)

The degree of felony drug charges varies based upon the type of drug involved, the amount of drug, a person’s prior convictions, and even where the drug-related crime occurred. Felony Drug charges range from the most serious being a Felony 1st Degree (F1) Drug charge down to the least serious being Felony 5th Degree (F5) Drug charge. Therefore, F5 and F4 drug convictions, while still being serious felony charges, are the least serious drug charges in the Felony category. The long-term impact of a drug-related conviction is the permanent criminal record of the case that is viewable by the public, employers, financial institutions, schools, universities, or any person or business conducting a criminal record search.

5th Degree Felony Drug Convictions

A FIFTH-DEGREE felony (F5) conviction can result in a 6-to-12-month prison term, a fine up to up to $2,500, and community control (probation) for up to 5 years.  These charges may also result in the loss of a driver’s license and the suspension or loss of a professional license.  Some of the most common 5th-degree drug possession offenses result when a person is convicted of:

  • Possession of marijuana from 200 up to 199 grams
  • Possession of cocaine less than 5 grams
  • Possession of heroin less than 1 gram
  • Possession of LSD less than 10-unit doses
  • Possession of crystal meth less than 3 grams

4th Degree Felony Drug Convictions

A FOURTH-DEGREE felony (F4) conviction can result in 6 to 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and community control (probation) for up to 5 years.  Similar to the F5 Drug charge, an F4 conviction also has the potential of a driver’s license suspension, and/or the suspension or revocation of a person’s professional license for their career.  Common 4th-degree drug charges include:

  • Marijuana possession from 200 to 1,999 grams
  • Cocaine possession for 5 to 9 grams
  • Heroin possession 1 -4 grams
  • LSD Possession for 10 – 49-unit doses

Other common drug offenses can be charged as Felony 5 or Felony 4 degree, depending on the amount and circumstances involved in the offense.  In addition to the drug possession charges above, these other drug charges include Drug Abuse, Trafficking in Drugs, Illegal Possession of Drug Documents, Illegal Manufacturing of Drugs, Illegal Cultivation of Drugs, Deception to Obtain Dangerous Drugs, Permitting Drug Abuse, as well as other F5 and F4 drug offenses.

Long-lasting Consequences for Drug-Related Conviction

An F5 or F4 drug conviction record can destroy a person’s reputation and severely limit many future opportunities.  The impact of drug offense convictions can make it extremely hard to find employment, be admitted to colleges or universities, rent an apartment, get a loan, or even receive a professional license. Drug-related convictions can even have a negative impact on child custody matters, adoption, immigration, or volunteering at school functions.

Expungement and Sealing of Felony 5 and Felony 4 Drug Convictions

Sealing / Expungement is a legal process to remove the record of a drug conviction from public access and shall cause all public index references of the case to be deleted. This procedure is available for most F5 and F4 drug-related convictions, dismissed charges, or a finding of not guilty. While there are some exceptions, when a Sealing of the Record is granted by Court Order, all the proceedings in the criminal case shall be deemed not to have occurred. Our law firm goes beyond just winning the expungement case, we have our unique process for serving the government and private background check companies so that they will update their database and remove their records of the drug conviction. Expungement of the record can give you a second chance to move on with your life without being hunted by an old criminal record.

Ohio law requires a court hearing for an expungement case. Prior to the hearing, the prosecutor may file objections with the court, or they can raise objections on the day of the hearing.  Further, the judge may require written support to decide whether to grant the expungement. We manage everything for our clients from the beginning of the case until its conclusion. We draft and file all required court documents, serve the prosecutor and Judge with documents, submit briefs and supporting documents, respond to prosecutor objections, prepare our client for testimony, arguing the case before the Judge.

We recognize that our clients may live outside of Ohio or have jobs or commitments that would prevent them from attending the expungement hearing. In these cases, we file documents to obtained permission from the Court, so our client does not have to travel back to Ohio for the expungement hearing. We go to court on behalf of our client. In other cases, we may conduct hearings by video conference or teleconference. However, the Judge is in control, and if they want a hearing with all parties present, then we prepare our client and appear with them to give testimony and evidence to support THE Motion to Seal the record.

Experience Ohio Expungement Team

Our law firm has an emphasis on expungement and sealing of Ohio criminal records.  As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we can use our experience to help you get a second chance.  We handle cases in all 88 counties of Ohio. Contact our Ohio law firm to get started or start with our free, confidential online consultation.