Many people in Ohio need to get a copy of their own criminal record. Some people might want to make certain the information contained is accurate. Others might be the victim of identity theft and want to check to make certain criminal records weren't amassed under the victim's identity. Still others may believe they are eligible for sealing their criminal record and need a copy to get the information required to file the motion.
Ohio provides several avenues for obtaining criminal records to individuals and businesses alike. As this article will address, people in Ohio can obtain records from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, through the court and through individual county sheriff departments.
Every U.S. State has a central repository that maintains criminal record information. Ohio's central repository for criminal records is the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI&I) within the State Attorney General's Office. ORC 109.57 et. seq. BC&I maintains criminal records and provides individuals access to their own records. Ohio limits the public's access to most criminal records information unless the request is made by the individual for his or her own record or the request is made by certain employers. BCI&I sets out a fairly straightforward process by which individuals can request a copy of their own records.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification requires a fee of $22.00 be submitted along with the request. The fee is made payable to the “Treasurer of State of Ohio”. Fees are accepted by business check (no personal checks), money order or electronic payment.
When requesting records from BCI&I, individuals must first obtain their fingerprints. Fingerprints can be submitted electronically at four different BCI locations across the state, located in London, Bowling Green, Richfield and Youngstown. Alternatively, if a person needs to submit fingerprints in a different location, the State has a number of approved Web Check vendors that can do the fingerprinting and submit the requests. The individual Web Check vendors do charge convenience fees for fingerprinting which are in addition to the request fee. A list of Web Check locations can be found here.
Individuals must bring a valid photo identification along with them for fingerprinting. People must also provide identifying information about themselves to include name and current address. If an employer is requesting an individual's record, the business must also include a signed consent form from the individual in addition to the fingerprints and identifying information.
Records are stored indefinitely in Ohio. Individuals can apply to have their records sealed, but only if the conviction record was for a first time offense (felony or misdemeanor) or for several minor misdemeanors. When a record is sealed in Ohio, the information is not erased, but it is stored separately.
Individual records for a single county can be obtained at the sheriff's office or from the Clerk of Courts. When obtained in this way, the record will only include criminal history information for that individual county and will not include any record information for other jurisdictions.
In many counties, individuals can access the county information for free on the county's court website. The information is available to the public and is free. The information provided by the county court's websites include arrests and cases other than sealed matters or ones that happened long ago.
Inaccurate information sometimes does appear on a person's criminal records information. Errors can be caused by poor communication between agencies, data entry errors, and the fact that some agencies store records longer than do others. Thankfully, BCI&I provides a method for individuals to challenge inaccurate information.
Any individual who is the subject of a criminal record can challenge the incorrect information and request correction. In order to do so, the person making the challenge is to submit documentation or proof to the Bureau along with his or her challenge. The Bureau instructs individuals to first obtain the documentation directly from the agency the individual believes is responsible for the inaccurate information, whether that is the court of conviction or a local law enforcement agency. The individual should then get a certified court record with the correct information and then submit it along with a cover letter to the Bureau at:
Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation
P.O. Box 365
London, OH 43140
Whether an individual wants his or her own criminal record for personal purposes or because an employer is requesting the individual obtain a copy for employment purposes, it is possible to obtain it in Ohio. Just remember that you must submit fingerprints along with the request and it is important to also bring a photo identification with you. If you need to challenge inaccurate information, be sure and get certified court records showing the correct information and submit those along with your cover letter. Relief can be obtained.
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