STEP 1: AM I ELIGIBLE TO GET MY RECORD SEALED?
You must qualify as an “eligible offender” to apply for the sealing of 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 state / jurisdiction) 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 does not carry a possible jail-time sentence, and carries a $150 fine 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 that do not arise from the same incident, but that result from the same court proceeding for related criminal acts committed within three months of each other, as one conviction. In other words, two or three convictions within 90 days of each other can be counted as one conviction. However, the court can also decide not to treat the multiple convictions as one for purposes of sealing the records.
Unfortunately, if you exceed the eligible offender limits on the number of convictions, you cannot have any of your criminal conviction records sealed.
STEP 2: WHAT KIND OF OFFENSE AM I TRYING TO SEAL?
Ineligible offenses include:
- Any 1st or 2nd degree felony;
- Any offense with a mandatory prison term;
- Any offense where the victim is under 18 years old (except criminal non-support cases);
- And 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)
- Inciting to violence – R.C. 2917.01
- Aggravated riot – R.C. 2917.02
- Riot – R.C. 2917.03
- Inducing panic – R.C. 2917.31
- 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 use 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
- 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
- Certain automobile-related offenses:
- OVI / DUI – 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
Traffic offenses (but they are also not counted as a criminal conviction, therefore they do not prevent you from getting other offenses expunged).
STEP 3: DO I HAVE ANY OTHER PENDING CRIMINAL / TRAFFIC CASES?
You will not be eligible to seal a criminal record if you have any pending criminal / traffic charges against you at the time you file your expungement. So, wait until those charges are resolved or closed until attempting to seal a criminal record.
STEP 4: WHEN CAN I APPLY?
You must wait a certain amount of time after the final discharge of the sentence for your conviction before you may apply for the record to be sealed. For misdemeanors you must wait one year after the final discharge of your conviction to apply to have your conviction sealed. 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;
- serving any term of probation or parole; and / or
- paid any and all fines (including restitution).
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 please contact Dimitri Makridis at (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587.
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