SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS IN OHIO

COLUMBUS EXPUNGEMENT ATTORNEYS

 In Ohio, the legal process to remove criminal convictions from your record is called “expungement.”  There are many benefits to pursuing expungement in Ohio and getting your criminal record expunged, including the ability to report to a potential employer that you do not have a criminal record.  Once your record has been expunged, it should not show up on a criminal background checks for the majority of jobs.

Many common criminal offenses are eligible for expungement in Ohio including theft, drug possession, disorderly conduct, underage consumption and Fake I.D. charges.

In order to begin the process of expungement, the Ohio expungement statute provides that an eligible offender may apply to the sentencing Ohio court (if the case was in Ohio) for the sealing of his or her conviction record. expungment columbus attorney

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GET THEIR RECORD EXPUNGED?

In order to be eligible for expungement in Ohio, someone convicted of five or less criminal offenses must apply to the court that sentenced them (if it was in Ohio) to have their record sealed. These could be felonies or misdemeanors.  The basic requirements for expungement of a criminal record are:

  • The applicant must have 5 or less criminal convictions in Ohio or any other state (misdemeanors or felonies)

 

  • Felony convictions may only be 4th or 5th degree felonies (F1, F2, and F3 felonies are not eligible)

 

  • None of the convictions may be for an “offenses of violence” or a felony sex offense (an offense of violence includes domestic violence convictions)

 

  • There are no currently pending criminal charges against the applicant

 

  • Minor misdemeanors on your record do not count as one of the five “convictions.” Examples of minor misdemeanors are, for example, most payable traffic tickets.

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO WAIT TO GET YOUR RECORD EXPUNGED?

Anyone who wants their record sealed has to wait until his or her case has had its “final discharge” before applying. In many cases, this requires waiting until after probation has ended.

The waiting periods before applying to have a record sealed are:

  • Misdemeanors: 1 year from final discharge
  • 1 Felony: 3 years from final discharge
  • 2 Felonies: 4 years from final discharge
  • 3 to 5 Felonies: 5 years from final discharge

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU OR YOUR ATTORNEY FILES YOUR EXPUNGEMENT APPLICATION?

Once an application for expungement is filed, the application will be sent to the magistrate or judge. They will make the final decision about whether the record will be sealed or not. The Prosecutor may file an objection to the application, and may argue that the record should not be sealed.

Click here to read more about the balancing factors the judge considers when deciding whether or not to grant an expungement application. 

The judge or magistrate hold a hearing and both sides will present why or why not they believe the records should be sealed.  The court will balance the interests of applicant in having records sealed vs. interest of the state in maintaining the convictions as public records and make a decision following a hearing.

Columbus Expungement Application

CAN I GET TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS OR TRAFFIC TICKETS SEALED / EXPUNGED IN OHIO?

Generally, traffic offenses are not eligible for expungement.  Traffic violations, such as a speeding ticket, a stop sign ticket, or a marked lanes ticket are generally not expungeable in Ohio.

However, there is one exception.

If you are charged with two or more offenses arising from the “same act,” and are found guilty of a traffic offense and all other charges are dismissed, you may be eligible to have your record sealed.

The “same act” means the offenses must share a common act or element. In the Matter of the Application of K.J., Franklin App. No 13 AP-1050 (finding that OVI and marijuana possession do not arise from the “same act” so that dismissed marijuana possession charges may be sealed despite an OVI conviction).

Examples include:

  • A driver is cited with a speeding ticket and a marked lanes ticket (both arise from the same act – driving the car), if he or she is found guilty of speeding and the marked lanes charge is dismissed, the driver is eligible to have the entire record sealed under Ohio Revised Code 2953.61(B).

 

  • A driver is charged with Driving Under Suspension and No Operators License, and pleads guilty to Driving Under Suspension and the remaining charge is dismissed. The driver would be eligible to have the whole case sealed under Ohio Revised Code 2953.61(B).

CAN AN OVI CONVICTION EVER BE SEALED OR EXPUNGED? 

Under Ohio Law, OVI / DUI convictions are not eligible to be expunged.

If you are convicted of an OVI, neither the OVI nor any other charges arising from the “same act” – even if they were dismissed – could be expunged.  However, if there are dismissed charges in the case that are not related to driving or to the OVI, those dismissed charges could be sealed.

For example:

  • A driver is cited for OVI (based on alcohol) and open container. She pleaded guilty to the OVI and the open container was dismissed. The record is not eligible for expungement because the OVI and the open container charges arise from the “same act” – both involved her driving her vehicle. In the Matter of the Application of K.J., Franklin App. No 13 AP-1050.

 

  • A driver is cited for OVI (based on alcohol – no allegation of marijuana impairment) and marijuana possession. She pleaded guilty to the OVI and the marijuana possession was dismissed.  The dismissed marijuana charge is eligible for expungement because the marijuana in her car did not arise from the “same act” as the OVI – driving a car is not an element of a marijuana possession charge (unlike open container).  In the Matter of the Application of K.J., Franklin App. No 13 AP-1050.

IS IT SEALABLE IF THE OVI WAS REDUCED TO A LESSER CHARGE, SUCH AS RECKLESS OPERATION?

OVI convictions are not eligible to be sealed or expunged.  In some cases, however, an OVI charge is reduced to a physical control or a reckless operation charge.

Physical control charges are not expungeable in Ohio.  However, an OVI reduced to Reckless Operation under ORC 4511.20 may be eligible under the right circumstances.

For example:

  • A driver is cited for OVI and a Marked Lanes offense. If his charged is reduced to Reckless Operation and the Marked Lanes offense is dismissed, the driver is eligible to have the record sealed under Ohio Revised Code 2953.61(B).

Reckless Operation and Marked Lanes offenses arose out of the same act (both involve driving a car), and meet the requirements for sealing set forth in the case of In the Matter of the Application of K.J., Franklin App. No 13 AP-1050. 

 

IF OHIO’S LAWS ON MARIJUANA POSSESSION CHANGE, WILL I BE ABLE TO EXPUNGE OLD MARIJUANA POSSESSION CONVICTIONS?

The laws in Ohio regarding the possession of marijuana will soon be changing, and the legalization of marijuana in Ohio is a possibility. Should the laws in Ohio change, it is anticipated individuals with convictions for marijuana on their record would likely become eligible for immediate expungement.

WHAT OFFENSES CANNOT BE EXPUNGED IN OHIO?

Not all offenses can be sealed or expunged from your record in Ohio.  In fact, there are a number of offenses that cannot be expunged under Ohio law.  Examples of convictions that generally cannot be expunged or sealed include:

Traffic Offenses (convictions generally not expungeable, but there may be exceptions in cases where there were two charges and one was dismissed – discussed above). 

Offenses of Violence (including domestic violence convictions)

Sex Offenses (convictions never expungeable) 

  • Rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Corrupting a minor
  • Gross sexual imposition
  • Pornography 

Examples of other convictions occurring on or after October 10, 2007 that cannot be expunged include:

  • Compelling / promoting prostitution
  • Importuning
  • Pandering obscenity
  • Procuring
  • Public indecency
  • Voyeurism

ADDITIONAL EXPUNGEMENT ARTICLES

Does a Previously Sealed Misdemeanor Conviction “Count” as a Conviction for Purposes of Ohio Expungement?

Criminal Records May Be Sealed Even When the Prosecutor Files an Objection to the Expungement Application

Franklin County Appeals Court Explains Requirements for Expungement Hearing

Weight Violation Does Not Count as a Conviction for Record Sealing

Can a Theft Conviction be Expunged if Restitution is Still Being Paid?

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS IN COLUMBUS OR ELIGIBLITY?

If you are seeking to have your record expunged in the Columbus area and want to know if you are eligible, give us a call at 614-361-2804. 

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