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How to Lose an Ohio Expungement 

The Thrill of Victory

Recently, I was before a Judge in a large Ohio court with our client for an expungement hearing.  We had a couple of things working against us going into the hearing: the prosecutor’s filed writing objections to our expungement: and, our client had multiple convictions in their past. The case was also before a tough Judge. I have argued several expungement cases before this Judge in the past.  I have learned in 32 years as an Ohio attorney, each Judge has their own personality and wants certain evidence presented before they will consider granting an expungement.

Knowing this, we filed written responses to the prosecutor’s objections, supported it with Ohio case law, prepared our legal arguments for the hearing, and prepared our client to testify.  At the beginning of the hearing, the Judge let us know up front that she had read the prosecutor’s objections, and our reply.  But she said she was not convinced.  Since this was our motion and she said it was our burden of proof, and she would need to hear more.  We launched into our case, putting our client on the stand to testify, and presented our evidence.  The prosecutor also examined our client and the Judge followed up with further questions.  We submitted documents and legal authority.  When the prosecutor made their argument, we were able to identify where they were wrong and why.  I felt we did well, and we should win, but recognized the Judge had the final decision.

At the conclusion of the hearing, there was long agonizing silence as the Judge reviewed her notes from the hearing.  My client had beads of sweat on their temples and was too nervous to look up as we waited.  Eventually, the Judge summarized the testimony and the law and went on to explain why she was granting our expungement.  My client took a huge breath like they had forgotten to breathe for the last few minutes.  It was an exciting victory and provided our client a much-needed fresh start.

The Agony of Defeat

After our hearing, I was working with the clerk to obtain certified copies of the Judge’s Entry. The Judge called the next case, which also was an expungement hearing. I was interested to see how it would be handled so I sat in the hearing.  A woman stood up to the counsel table by herself, intending to represent herself before the Judge. The Judge graciously asked if she was sure that she wanted to self-represent, which she proceeded to do without an attorney.

The Judge informed her that this was her opportunity to provide evidence and testimony.  The defendant went on for several minutes talking about how her conviction has impacted her life while the Judge sat silent and just listened. After rambling through her statement and failing to address the statutory requirements to satisfy the Judge, she nervously sat down and waited for the Judge’s ruling.

Her first mistake was going through this process without the advice of an attorney. Had she retained our services, she wouldn’t have made the mistakes that resulted in her expungement denial. Additionally, she made the following missteps:

  • She did not understand what she needed to prove to be eligible for an expungement.
  • She failed to address the probation investigation report
  • She failed to establish under which section of the expungement statute she sought relief
  • She did not address other criminal proceedings
  • She did establish her rehabilitation to the satisfaction of the court
  • If there was an objection raised by the prosecutor, she didn’t counter it
  • Lastly, she did not speak to the balancing test in which the court had to weigh her interest in having the criminal record sealed against the government’s need to maintain the record.

Unfortunately, for this woman, she did not understand the statutory requirements, the legal procedure and the fact that when a person is denied an expungement in Ohio, the process of reapplying becomes more difficult.  Once a person is denied an expungement, the burden of proof changes and becomes a higher standard which can be very difficult to meet.  As a result, not only did this woman most likely lose her expungement, but she probably ruined her chances of every getting and expungement in the future.

Our Clients Say It Best

“I had filed for an expungement once before and the Judge turned me down. Later, I hired Mr. Mathews and we filed again.  We went through a contested hearing in which the prosecutor strongly opposed my expungement and the Judge was critical.  However, Attorney Mathews filed persuasive briefs with the court and made skillful arguments at the hearing.  This time my expungement and sealing was granted and I owe it to Attorney Mathews knowledge of the law and aggressive representation.    I am very glad I discovered ohioexpungementlaw.com  I recommend them to anyone considering having their criminal record sealed and expunged.” – W.L.

We have over 30 Years of Experience

You cannot afford to risk losing your expungement case.  As trial attorney and former prosecutor, we have over 30 years of success stories in obtaining expungements for our clients.   Our law firm has been in business and located in central Ohio since 1988.  We handle cases in all 88 counties of Ohio. Contact our Ohio law firm for a confidential and free consultation