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Misdemeanor Expungement in Ohio

How to Expunge a Misdemeanor Conviction

Under Ohio law, most misdemeanor criminal records can be expunged. Misdemeanor convictions leave a permanent criminal record that is accessible to the public, including employers. Many people mistakenly believe that misdemeanor convictions automatically drop off of court records after a few years. Unless a person petitions the court to expunge their misdemeanor criminal record under the Ohio Expungement Statute, the criminal record will always be accessible and available to public inspection.

Misdemeanor charges can have a severe impact on one’s life, as reflected by their potential consequences, including, jail time, expensive fines, loss of freedom, and burdensome probation requirements. Unless expunged, a misdemeanor conviction can limit your career future and professional opportunities. For misdemeanor criminal charges, the degree of the offense determines the type of punishment.

The Ohio Expungement Statute, O.R.C. 2953.32 and 2953.52 requires a hearing before the court in every application for misdemeanor expungement. There are several factors which the court shall consider during the expungement hearing to determine if an applicant meets all requirements under the statute. In addition, the court must consider objections raised by the prosecutor, evidence of applicant’s rehabilitation, and weigh the interest of the applicant in having the record expunged verse the government’s need to maintain the record. As a result, the best way to have your misdemeanor criminal record cleared in Ohio is to have an expungement attorney who will go to court with you, or on your behalf.

At the hearing for misdemeanor expungement, the court has discretion to determine whether it will grant, or deny, the application for expungement based upon the evidence and arguments presented to it at the hearing. As expungement attorneys, we prepare each case in order to present the best arguments under the Ohio Expungement Statute and decisions by Ohio courts. In many cases, we are able to appear for our clients so that they do not have to incur the time and expense of personally appearing at the expungement hearing.

In order to have a misdemeanor expunged in Ohio, a person must wait one year from the termination of the case. This would include any period of probation or fulfillment of all court orders. Further, one has to be a “Eligible Offender” as defined under ORC 2953.31:

O.R.C. defines Eligible Offender:    (A) “Eligible offender” means anyone who has been convicted of an offense in this state or any other jurisdiction and who has not more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in this state or any other jurisdiction.

Further, When two or three convictions result from the same indictment, information, or complaint, from the same plea of guilty, or from the same official proceeding, and result from related criminal acts that were committed within a three-month period but do not result from the same act or from offenses committed at the same time, they shall be counted as one conviction, provided that a court may decide as provided in division (C)(1)(a) of section 2953.32 of the Revised Code that it is not in the public interest for the two or three convictions to be counted as one conviction.

“Eligible offender” is defined as a person who “has not more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in this state or any other jurisdiction.”  As a result of Senate Bill 337 and Senate Bill 143, a person can now have more than one conviction expunged.  As a result of this change in the law, many more people are eligible for an expungement.  Further, people who were previously prohibited from applying for an expungement and sealing under the old law, are now eligible under the new law.  As of  September, 2012, people with the following convictions or combination of convictions are eligible for an expungement and sealing of their record: 1) one felony conviction; or 2) one misdemeanor conviction; or 3) one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction even if they are not related to the same case, or 4) two misdemeanor convictions even if they are not related to the same case.  (Convictions for minor misdemeanors, including most non-serious traffic offenses do not count as conviction.  Further, 2-3 convictions related to the same case are considered as one conviction.)

“One conviction” can include a series of 2 to 3 convictions from the same case. ORC 2953.31 provides that if a person was convicted of two or more crimes based upon the same action, then all of those convictions will be considered as one conviction and all the charges can be expunged and sealed from their record.

An Eligible Offender may have “one conviction” that was made up of 2 or 3 misdemeanor convictions, and still have an an expungement of a separate misdemeanor or felony conviction and qualify for first offender expungement under the Ohio Expungement Statute.

Convictions for minor misdemeanors, including most traffic offenses, do not count as criminal convictions. Bail forfeiture, dismissed charges, and minor misdemeanor charges will not serve as a conviction and these charges should not prevent a person from having their record expunged and sealed.

Not all convictions are eligible for misdemeanor expungement. Misdemeanor records that can not be expunged include the following:

  • Conviction of an offense in a case where the victim was under 18 years of age and the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • Convictions of an offense of violence (as defined under Ohio law) when the conviction is a misdemeanor of the first degree, except for charges of Assault, Inciting Riot, and Inducing Panic which are eligible for expungement.
  • Convictions after October 10, 2007 for voyeurism, public indecency, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, procuring, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, displaying matter harmful to juveniles, pandering obscenity, or deception to obtain matter harmful to juveniles.
  • Domestic Violence Misdemeanor First Degree (Domestic Violence Misdemeanor of Fourth Degree is Eligible for Expungement)
  • All drivers’ License violations under ORC 4507
  • Driver’s License Suspension, Cancellation, and Revocation Chapter under ORC 4510
  • Motor vehicle violations under ORC 4511
  • Motor Vehicle Crimes under ORC 4549

Don’t let a misdemeanor charge ruin your life, your family, or your career future. You can’t afford to put off hiring an experienced expungement lawyer. 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. Contact our law firm for a confidential and free consultation to determine if you are eligible for a misdemeanor expungement and sealing of your record. www.ohioexpungementlaw.com.