Does anyone have the right to know about a sealed conviction?
Background checks are common with the ease of access to the internet. Most employers, government agencies, landlords, colleges, and many other agencies are using them. If a criminal record appears on a background check, a person may be denied employment, an apartment, college admission, credit, governmental benefits. In most cases, sealed/expunged records will not appear on background checks. This means it may be easier for you to apply for a job, professional license, get housing, apply to college or apply for credit. But there are exceptions when sealed records may be accessed by some employers or agencies.
Can anyone see my sealed/expunged criminal record?
Most employers, landlords, etc., are not allowed access to expunged records. But under limited circumstance, there are some exceptions for police; clerk of courts; or Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation, and certain state licensing agencies.
Limited Access to Sealed Convictions
In restricted circumstances, Ohio law allows certain people or agencies to see a sealed record. If you apply for certain types of employment (such as caring for older adults, direct patient care, working with minor children, working for banks or financial institutions, or in law enforcement or corrections), or for a state vocational license, the employer or state agency may be able to inquire or have to access your sealed records as part of its application process.
Under O.R.C. 2953.33, a person may not be questioned about a sealed conviction by an employer or licensing board unless the question bears a direct and substantial relationship to the position for which the person is being considered. (For example, if a person is applying to work in a bank, and that person has a sealed record for embezzlement, the bank would be entitled to question the person about this sealed record because the nature of the charge would have a substantial relationship to the job for which the person is being considered.)
No Access to Dismissed Charges, Not Guilty, or other Non-Convictions
If a person has a dismissed or other non-conviction that has been sealed pursuant, an employer or licensing agency may not question the person about it at all under O.R.C. 2953.55. Rather, the person whose official record was sealed may respond as if the arrest underlying the case to which the sealed official records pertain and all other proceedings, in that case, did not occur. Further, that person whose official record of a dismissed charge was sealed shall not be subject to any adverse action because of the arrest, the proceedings, or the person’s response to an employer’s inquiry.
Limited Access by Courts, Judges, and Prosecutors.
In some circumstance, law enforcement or the courts may be able to access your sealed records as part of a new criminal case or investigation, including:
- Prosecutors, judges, and police if there are future criminal investigations
- Judges considering bond, convictions, or sentencing in future crimes
Jobs that involve a position in one of the areas below, that employer may have a right to know about your old criminal record and you should exercise caution when answering their questions related to past criminal offenses. Beware if you encounter a question on a job application that asks something to this effect, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime, even or those which you may have received an expungement or sealing of record?”.
Or if a question asks, “Have you ever had a conviction that may have a substantial relationship to the position for which you are applying. This may indicate that you may be applying for a position where the employer has the right to inquire or know about expunged or sealed records, such as:
- Employers in law enforcement, jobs working with children or the elderly (e.g. schools, daycares, and health-care services), jobs providing medical care to patients, and some jobs in financial institutions or real estate; and
- Most state professional-licensing boards, such as the State Accountancy Board, State Medical Board, State Dental Board, State Board of Nursing, State Board of Psychology, and others, for the purposes of license denial, suspension, or revocation.
If you are considering State Licensing for a profession, it is advisable to inquire with the licensing board in advance what are your duties to disclosed sealed convictions and whether your sealed conviction may have an impact upon obtaining the license. Some licensed positions, such as nurses or teachers, have certain serious convictions (regardless of whether the offense has been sealed) that will disqualify the person for working in those positions. Further, if you are applying for a position where your sealed record has a substantial relationship to the position for which you are applying, you should be prepared to disclose that on the application and discuss that in the interview. Please note, even though you may be required to disclose a sealed conviction for a certain position, or the employer may have a right to see your sealed conviction, a sealed/expunged conviction may not automatically prevent you from serving in that position. Often the employer or agency has the discretion and a person’s history of accomplishments and a law-abiding life can over-come any concerns.
It is wise to have criminal records sealed/expunged
While there are exceptions affecting certain jobs and professions, it is always worthwhile to have criminal records removed from the public records. A sealing/expungement of your record allows you to have all public records of your prior criminal conviction cleared and you court file sealed.
Regardless of the type of employer, licensing board, an employer will understand that if someone had their criminal record expunged and sealed, that person had to undergo the review and scrutiny of a court during the legal proceedings in order to successfully obtained a Court Order granting their expungement, including undergoing investigation and background search by the Court; review by the court probation department, review by the prosecutor; resolution of any objections of the prosecutor; that the Court concluded that the person was rehabilitated, and the interest of the person in having their record expunged outweighed any interest of the state in maintaining the record. In other words, an expungement is a declaration that a person has been through this legal process and a Court of Law has deemed the person worthy to have their record expunged and sealed. As a result, and expungement and sealing of an old criminal record can be influential for educational, licensure, and employment.
Expungement and Record Sealing Lawyers – Contact us for a Free Consultation
Our law firm has been in business and located in central Ohio since 1988. Our law firm emphasizes expungement and sealing of criminal records in Ohio. As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we have the knowledge and experience to have your criminal record sealed. We handle cases in all 88 counties of Ohio.
Contact our Ohio law firm for a confidential and free consultation.