Eligibility For Expungement in Ohio

Ohio Senate Bill 337, which went into effect on September 28, 2012, changed the prior law regarding the qualifications for eligibility of applicants for expungement of criminal convictions. Under the old law, an applicant had to qualify as a “first offender.” This meant that individuals with more than one criminal conviction, no matter how remote or far removed, could not expunge either criminal conviction or have their record sealed.

Thankfully, the Ohio legislature modified the expungement statute and changed the definition of “first offender” to “eligible offender.” This, in effect, now permits individuals under certain circumstances with multiple criminal convictions to expunge their entire criminal record. Note that individuals who have been convicted of OVI/DUI or drunk driving offenses and those convicted of violent crimes cannot expunge their criminal records of conviction.

Understanding The Columbus Ohio Expungement Law Process

The expungement process begins by filing a written application with the court, in which the applicant requests that a particular conviction be expunged and sealed. Most courts typically require a fee of less than $100 per expungement application. After the court receives and processes an expungement application, it forwards the application to the Prosecutor’s Office for review and response. The Prosecutor’s Office will typically respond in writing concerning the position of the State on the issue of expungement.

When reviewing an application for expungement, the Prosecutor’s Office checks to see if four distinct criteria have been satisfied:

  • The applicant must have received a final discharge on the conviction. An individual is not eligible to seek expungement of a criminal conviction until after final discharge of the case. If an individual is not placed on probation by the court, final discharge of the case is the date of conviction. If an individual is placed on probation by the court, final discharge of the case is the date of termination of the probation.
  • The application must be filed after the statutory waiting period. The law in Ohio provides that an individual is not eligible to seek expungement until one year after the final discharge of a qualifying misdemeanor charge. An individual is not eligible until three years after the final discharge of a qualifying felony charge.
  • The applicant qualifies as an “eligible offender.” To qualify as an “eligible offender,” an individual must not have more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in any jurisdiction. The law can be complex regarding what counts as a conviction and how many convictions an individual received during a particular case, so it is important to speak with a lawyer about your eligibility for expungement.
  • The conviction to be expunged is not precluded by statute from being expunged. In Ohio, specific offenses cannot under any circumstances be expunged. These offenses include OVI/DUI/DWI drunk driving offenses and violent crimes.

Following the State’s response to the expungement application, a hearing takes place to determine whether the conviction should be expunged and sealed from an individual’s record. As a criminal defense attorney, I have significant experience preparing applications for expungement and representing clients at these hearings, sometimes without clients having to appear at all. If the assistant prosecuting attorney does not oppose the expungement application, the court will typically order that the applicant’s criminal conviction be expunged and sealed.

What Happens Once A Criminal Conviction Is Expunged?

Once a criminal conviction is expunged and sealed, it will be hidden from the general public. The applicant is not required to disclose the previous conviction on any future job application or to any future employer. It is important to note that in Ohio, law enforcement agencies, prosecution attorneys, and parole and probation officers may have access to an expunged criminal record under specific and limited purposes. Talk to an Columbus expungement attorney if you are concerned about your criminal record.

Contact A Columbus Expungement Attorney

Are you eligible for expungement? Would you like to seal your criminal record? Contact criminal defense attorney Michael Probst, in Columbus, Ohio, online or call me at 614-232-8890 for a free initial consultation.

I have significant experience helping good people who have made mistakes expunge criminal convictions. I know from experience that prior criminal records have caused clients to lose positions of employment or have prevented them from finding work. I can help prevent this happening from you.