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(OH SB143) Ohio’s New Expanded Expungement Law

Explained by Criminal Record Expungement Lawyers

Ohio Senate Bill 143 (OH SB143) was passed in the Senate June 4, 2014, and signed by Gov. John Kasich June, 2014. The new expungement law shall become effective September 19, 2014. This new legislation contains important amendments expanding the laws of expungement and sealing of records in Ohio. The good news is that more people shall be eligible for expungement and sealing of their criminal records as a result of the changes in Ohio’s expungement statute. Further, if a person has previously been denied an expungement/sealing of their record, they may eligible now under the new law.

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We are not an out of state law firm. We are a trusted Ohio law firm that has been in business and located in central Ohio since 1988. We know Ohio laws related to Sealing of Criminal Records and Expungement. As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we have the knowledge and experience to help you put your past behind you and have a second chance. Our attorneys have an emphasis expungement and sealing of criminal records in Ohio.

Below is a summary of the changes to the Ohio Expungement Statute under SB 143. We also provide a confidential and free consultation to determine if you are eligible under the new law by a trusted Ohio Law Firm with over 25 years of experience.

(1) Expungement of Two Misdemeanor Convictions Even if They Are Same Offense.
OH SB143 changed Ohio Revised Code 2953.31 definition of “Eligible Offender” and expands who is eligible to apply for sealing under the Ohio Expungement Statute to include a person who has been convicted of two misdemeanors, regardless of whether they are, or are not, of the same offense. Under the previous expungement law, a person with two misdemeanors convictions could apply for an expungement only if convictions were not the same offense. (For example, a person with two misdemeanor theft convictions was not eligible for expungement and sealing.) The new law eliminates the “same offense” limitation and now makes people eligible for expungement of two misdemeanor convictions even if they are the same offense.

Now under Senate Bill 143, the definition of “Eligible Offender” means anyone who has been convicted of an offense in Ohio 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 Ohio or any other jurisdiction. (As under the previous versions of the statute, 2 or 3 convictions out of the same case only count as one conviction under the expungement statute.) (ORC 2953.31)

(2) Individual Convictions Within Case Eligible.
A change under ORC 2953.32 by OH SB143 amends language that currently refers to the sealing of the “conviction record,” “records of the case,” “official records pertaining to the case,” “proceedings in the case,” and similar language to clarify that the record sealing provisions apply with respect to individual convictions and bail forfeitures in a case and not just with respect to an entire case. (ORC 2953.32 and 2953.321)

(3) Multiple Offenses With Different Dispositions.
ORC 2953.61 was amended under OH SB143 to affect expungement in cases that have multiple offenses with different dispositions, including convictions associated with traffic stops. SB 143 creates an exception to the previous expungement/sealing law that a record involving multiple charges arising out of the same act may not be sealed until all the charges are eligible for sealing. Under previous expungement law, if a person had a conviction for a traffic offense out of the same case in which they had a Guilty Record, Dismissal, or No Bill record that was eligible for expungement/ sealing, the person would never be eligible for expungement of any of the offenses because traffic offenses were not eligible for expungement. (This was a contention in a recent case Ohio Supreme Court Case in State v. Pariag, 137 Ohio St.3d 81, decided in September 2013.)

Now under OH SB143, if the final disposition of one, and only one, of the charges is an otherwise an unsealable conviction for motor vehicle offense, other than OVI (ORC 4511.19) or having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence (ORC 4511.194), and if the records pertaining to all the other charges would be eligible for expungement under the Not Guilty / Dismissal / No Bill expungement law (2953.52) in the absence of that conviction, the court may order that the records pertaining to all the charges be sealed. In such case, the court may not order that only a portion of the records be sealed/expunged. (As a result of this change, when a person has a Not Guilty, Dismissal or No Bill record expunged out of a case in which they also had a traffic offense, even the traffic offense will be expunged and sealed as part of the expungement case.) (ORC 2953.61)

(4) BMV Access to Traffic Offense Expunged as Part of Sealed Record.
OH SB143 provides that a sealed record of conviction of a motor vehicle offense (see “2953.61 Multiple Charges with Different Dispositions” discussed above) may be inspected by a court, the registrar of motor vehicles, a prosecuting attorney or the prosecuting attorney’s assistants, or a law enforcement officer for the purpose of assessing points against a person under the motor vehicle statutes or for taking action with regard to points assessed. SB 143 further specifies that the sealing of a record does not affect the assessment of points or erase points assessed against a person. (ORC 2953. (D)(13) and (I)).

(5) Amendment to 2953.36 Convictions Precluding Sealing.
OH SB143 modifies the provision ORC 2953.36, “Convictions Precluding Sealing” that lists certain convictions to which the Ohio Conviction Record Sealing Law does not apply to specify that the provision is subject to the provision described in section 3 and 4 above regarding changes to ORC 2953.61.

(6) Only One Filing Fee for Multiple Applications for Expungement.
OH SB143 allows a person to request the sealing of the record of more than one case in a single application for expungement and be only charged one court filing fee. Previously, some courts were requiring multiple records to be filed in separate applications for expungement and charging a filing fee for each application. The new law says that if a person is filing for expungement/sealing of multiple records, they can all be part of one application and pay one court filing fee. (ORC 2953.32 (C)(3))