Sealing of Criminal Records / Expungement Attorney Columbus Ohio
Eligibility For Record Expungement in Ohio
Ohio Senate Bill 66, which went into effect on October 29, 2018, changed the prior law regarding the qualifications for eligibility of applicants for expungement of criminal convictions. Under the new law, an applicant who qualifies as an “eligible offender” has the opportunity to expunge up to five (5) felony convictions, so long as all of the offenses in Ohio are felonies of the fourth or fifth degree or misdemeanors and none of the offenses is an offense of violence or a felony sex offense. Further, any out of state offense must qualify as a felony of the fourth or fifth degree if committed in this State, and must not be an offense of violence or a felony sex offense.
Those individuals who do not meet the above criteria can still apply to have their record of conviction expunged as long as they do not have more than one (1) felony conviction, not more than two (2) misdemeanor convictions, or not more than one (1) felony conviction and one (1) misdemeanor conviction. The statute also allows for two (2) or more felony convictions to be expunged under special circumstances when the felony convictions result from or are connected with the same act and/or result from the same plea of guilty.
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 record 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 record 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 to seek expungement until three years after the final discharge of a qualifying felony charge if convicted of one (1) felony; four (4) years after the final discharge of a qualifying felony charge if convicted of two (2) felonies; and five (5) years after the final discharge of a qualifying felony.
- The applicant qualifies as an “eligible offender.” An individual can expunge up to five (5) felony convictions. To qualify as an “eligible offender,” all of the offenses must be felonies of the fourth or fifth degree or misdemeanors and none of the offenses is an offense of violence or a felony sex offense. 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 an expungement attorney 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, prosecuting attorneys and parole and probation officers may have access to an expunged criminal record under specific and limited purposes. Talk to a Columbus, Ohio expungement attorney if you are concerned about your criminal record.
Contact A Columbus Expungement Attorney
Are you eligible for record 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 their criminal record. 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 to you. Find a qualified Columbus lawyer to start the process of sealing your criminal record so you can get back to focusing on what’s important to you.