- STEP 1: Do you qualify as an Eligible Offender?
- STEP 2: Are you attempting to seal a prohibited offense?
- STEP 3: Do you have any other criminal charges currently pending against you?
- STEP 4: Have you complied with the statutory waiting period?
- Want to discuss your case?
- What does it mean to get your criminal record sealed?
- Why is it important to get your criminal record sealed?
- How to find your criminal record?
- Can anyone see your record after it is sealed?
- Do you need help sealing your record?
- Is there a filing fee associated with filing an application to seal your criminal record?
STEP 1: Do you qualify as an Eligible Offender?
You must qualify as an “eligible offender” to apply for the sealing of a criminal record (i.e. expunging a criminal record). Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 2953.31(A), which was amended by Senate Bill 337 on 9/28/2012, an eligible offender is anyone who has been convicted of an offense in this state or any other jurisdiction (i.e. Florida) and who has:
- not more than one felony conviction, or
- not more than two misdemeanor convictions, or
- not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in this state or any other jurisdiction.
In other words, you can have at most two misdemeanor convictions, or one misdemeanor and one felony conviction. It does not matter how old they are or where they occurred.
Traffic offenses and minor misdemeanors are not counted towards your total number of convictions. A minor misdemeanor is an offense which (1) does not carry a possible jail-time sentence, and (2) carries a fine of $150 or less.
If you have two or more convictions arise from the same incident, the multiple convictions will be treated like one conviction. For example, if you were convicted of theft and resisting arrest in the same incident—the court will consider the two separate charges as one conviction when you apply to seal the records.
90-day rule: The Court may also choose to treat multiple convictions (2 or 3) that occur within 90 days of each other as one conviction. But, the court may just as easily choose not to treat the multiple convictions as one for purposes of expungement.
Unfortunately, if you exceed the eligible offender limits on the number of convictions, you cannot have any of your criminal conviction records expunged.
STEP 2: Are you attempting to seal a prohibited offense?
Ineligible offenses include:
– Traffic offenses (but they are also not counted as criminal convictions);
– Any 1st or 2nd degree felony;
– Any offense with a mandatory prison term;
– Any offense where the victim is under 18 years old
– The following offenses of violence:
- Aggravated murder – R.C. 2903.01
- Murder – R.C. 2903.02
- Voluntary manslaughter – R.C. 2903.03
- Involuntary manslaughter – R.C. 2903.04
- Felonious assault – R.C. 2903.11
- Aggravated assault – R.C. 2903.12
- Permitting child abuse – R.C. 2903.15
- Aggravated menacing – R.C. 2903.21
- Menacing by stalking – R.C. 2903.211
- Menacing – R.C. 2903.22
- Kidnapping – R.C. 2905.01
- Abduction – R.C. 2905.02
- Extortion – R.C. 2905.11
- Aggravated arson – R.C. 2909.02
- Arson – R.C. 2909.03
- Terrorism – R.C. 2909.02
- Aggravated robbery – R.C. 2911.01
- Robbery – R.C. 2911.02
- Aggravated burglary – R.C. 2911.11
- Burglary – R.C. 2911.12(A)(1), (2), (3)
- Aggravated riot – R.C. 2917.02
- Riot – R.C. 2917.03
- Nonsupport or contributing to nonsupport of dependents – R.C. 2919.21
- Endangering Children – R.C. 2919.22(B)(1), (2), (3), or (4)
- Domestic violence (M1) – R.C. 2919.25
- Intimidation – R.C. 2921.03
- Intimidation of witness – R.C. 2921.04
- Escape – R.C. 2921.34
- Improper discharge of firearm- R.C. 2923.161
– Certain sex offenses:
- Rape – R.C. 2907.02
- Sexual battery – R.C. 2907.03
- Unlawful sexual conduct w/ minor – R.C. 2907.04
- Gross Sexual Imposition – R.C. 2907.05
- Sexual Imposition – R.C. 2907.06
- Importuning – R.C. 2907.07
- Voyeurism – R.C. 2907.08
- Public indecency – R.C. 2907.09
- Compelling prostitution – R.C. 2907.21
- Promoting prostitution – R.C. 2907.22
- Solicitation to patronize a prostitute; procurement of prostitute for another – R.C. 2907.23
- Disseminating matter harmful to juveniles – R.C. 2907.31
- Displaying matter harmful to juveniles – R.C. 2907.311
- Pandering obscenity – R.C. 2907.32
- Pandering obscenity w/ minor – R.C. 2907.321
- Pandering sexually oriented matter w/ minor – R.C. 2907.322
- Illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material – R.C. 2907.323
- Deception to obtain matter harmful to juveniles – R.C. 2907.33
– Certain automobile-related offenses:
- OVI – R.C. 4511.19
- Driving under OVI suspension – R.C. 4510.14
- Street Racing – R.C. 4511.251
- All hit-and-runs
- Sale of key designed to fit more than one motor vehicle – R.C. 4549.042
- Tampering w/ odometer – R.C. 4549.42
- Sale or use of fraudulent odometer – R.C. 4549.43
- Offenses with purpose to conceal or destroy identity of car or its parts
NOTE: First Degree Misdemeanor Assault and 4th degree Misdemeanor Domestic Violence are not prohibited offenses and CAN be expunged / sealed.
STEP 3: Do you have any other criminal charges currently pending against you?
You will not be eligible to seal a criminal record if you have any criminal charges pending against you at the time you file your expungement, including traffic offenses. So, wait until those charges have been resolved and you have paid all associated fees before attempting to seal a criminal record.
STEP 4: Have you complied with the statutory waiting period?
You must wait a certain amount of time after the final discharge of the sentence for your conviction before you may apply for your record to be sealed. For misdemeanors you must wait one year after the final discharge of your conviction. For felonies you must wait three years after the final discharge of your conviction to apply.
Final discharge means the date you:
- finished serving any jail or prison sentence;
- finished serving any term of probation or parole; and / or
- paid any and all fines (including restitution).
NOTE: Court costs should not be used as a reason to block your attempt to seal your criminal record.
Want to discuss your case?
If you are unsure whether you qualify for an expungement or simply want to discuss your situation, please contact Dimitrios Makridis at (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587.
What does it mean to get your criminal record sealed?
Most people think sealing a criminal record will completely erase it, as if it never happened. However, in Ohio, convictions cannot be completely erased from your record. Instead, when a record is sealed, it is simply filed in a separate, secured location. So the record still exists, but it cannot be seen by most people.
Why is it important to get your criminal record sealed?
In most cases, a sealed criminal record will not show up on a background check and can be treated as if it does not exist, which is important when:
- Applying for a Job or License;
- Seeking Credit;
- Applying for Education Programs;
- Obtaining Housing; and
- Securing other opportunities.
How to find your criminal record?
Can anyone see your record after it is sealed?
Most employers will not be able (or allowed) to see your sealed record from a government source. However, certain employers, official, and agencies are still allowed by law to see sealed records using state Bureau of Identification and Investigation (BCI) checks:
- Prosecutors, judges, and police if there are future criminal investigations;
- Judges considering convictions for sentencing in future crimes;
- Employers in law enforcement;
- Jobs working with children or the elderly (i.e. schools, daycares, and health-care services);
- Some jobs in real-estate and financial institutions; and
- Most state professional-licensing boards, including State Medical Board, State Dental Board, State Accountancy Board, State Board of Nursing, and others, for the purposes of license denial, suspension, or revocation.
Do you need help sealing your record?
You can apply to seal your criminal record without an attorney, but the prosecutor (or judge) may object to (or reject) your application for reasons you do not fully understand. An attorney can also help you think through and prepare what you will say at the hearing in your case. For these reasons, it can be helpful to have counsel represent you when trying to seal a criminal record.
Is there a filing fee associated with filing an application to seal your criminal record?
Yes, unless you are attempting to seal a record of acquittal, dismissal, or No Bill. The filing fee is typically $50 (but can vary from courthouse to courthouse).
Many of the views expressed in this article were taken from The Ohio Justice & Policy Center’s Criminal Records Manual: Understanding and Clearing up Ohio Criminal Records, and Overcoming the Barriers They Create. Version: 3/10/2014