Our attorneys have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding sealing a record in Ohio. The most common question we receive is, "am I eligible for record sealing?" Our eligibility test can answer that question for you, for free! You can also learn more about our Ohio record sealing service. If you still have questions, please read our FAQ below.
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In 2012, the state legislature amended the wording of the statute to say “eligible offender” rather than “first offender,” showing that they intended to expand eligibility to those who have prior convictions. While there have been some cases where a previously expunged or sealed conviction has helped determined eligibility, we can argue that if the goal of the statute is to prevent an eligible conviction from being held against the petitioner, then the court itself should not hold a previously expunged or sealed case against a person when determining eligibility for relief.
No, your disposition does not matter and in both situations your plea is considered a conviction. Please take the free online eligibility test on our web site to see if you are eligible to seal your conviction.
We can work with you to find out what is on your record and what can be done to clear up your record. We call this service case research, and we charge a small fee to complete that step of the process. The fee would then be applied towards any sealing or expungement service you hire us to handle for you.
You may be eligible to file to seal the record as long as you meet all the other requirements. However, securing a pardon does not automatically entitle you to have the records related to the pardoned conviction sealed. Whether or not a conviction has been pardoned, the court will weigh your interest in having the records sealed against the government's interest in maintaining the records. (ORC 2953.52(C)(1)(e); State v. Boykin, 2013-Ohio-4582 (Ohio Oct. 22, 2013)). Further, if you have more than one felony conviction, more than two misdemeanor convictions not of the same offense, or more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction, then you are not eligible for a record sealing, even if one or more of your convictions have been pardoned. (State v. Radcliff, 2012-Ohio-4732 (Ohio Ct. App., Franklin County 2012)).
If you have more than one offense that was a result of the same act, then you must wait to apply until all of the offenses are eligible.
Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 2953.31, you cannot have more than five felony convictions in this state or any other jurisdiction, if all of the offenses in this state are felonies of the fourth or fifth degree or misdemeanors and none of those offenses are an offense of violence or a felony sex offense and all of the offenses in another jurisdiction, if committed in this state, would be felonies of the fourth or fifth degree or misdemeanors and none of those offenses would be an offense of violence or a felony sex offense.
Ohio Revised Code section 2953.31(A)(1)(b) states “when two or more convictions result from or are connected with the same act of result from offenses committed at the same time, they shall be counted as one conviction. When two or three convictions result from the same indictment, information, or complaint, from the same plea of guilty, or from the same official proceeding, and result from related criminal acts that were committed within a three-month period but do not result from the same act or from offenses committed at the same time, they shall be counted as conviction.” However, according to 2953.31(A)(2) a minor misdemeanor under chapter 4507 (driver’s license law), 4510 (driver’s license suspension, cancellation, renovation), 4511 (traffic laws –operation of motor vehicles), 4513 (traffic laws –equipment; loads), or 4549 (motor vehicle crimes) of the Ohio Revised Code or for a substantially similar violation is not a conviction unless it is a violation of section 4511.19 (operating vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs), 4511.251 (street racing), 4549.02 (stopping after accident on public roads or highways), 4549.021 (stopping after accident on other than public roads or highways), 4549.03 (stopping after accident involving damage to realty or personal property attached to real property), 4549.042 (sale or possession of master key designed to fit more than one vehicle), 4549.62 (offenses with purpose to conceal or destroy identity), 4549.41 to 4549.46 (odometer rollback and disclosure act), 4510.11 (driving under suspension or in violation of license restriction), or 4510.14 (driving under OVI suspension).
In some circumstances we can request that more than one case be included on a petition (ORC 2953.32) and in that situation we charge a largely discounted rate for the additional cases. If we can't include the additional cases on the same petition then we can file a petition per case and we still offer a multiple case discount.
A felony conviction can only be reduced or modified through an appeal. Only the appellate court has the discretion to resentence, and the appellate court must find that the sentencing court abused its discretion or that the felony sentence is contrary to the law. (Ohio Revised Code section 2953.08)
No. The court will consider if you have been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the court in the cases of a conviction sealing. For dismissed cases, the court will consider your interest and needs against the need for the public to have access to the records.
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If we do not believe that refiling would be successful or we recommend the person wait longer to refile, then there is the money-back guarantee for certain services.
You can only expunge limited types of federal cases as the requirements are very strict or you can apply for a pardon through the President. However, we do not handle federal cases.
Typically, you will not need to attend court for your hearing, because we will go for you. Additionally, if the court requests your presence and you are unable to attend, then we will file a motion asking that your presence be excused.
Typically, the average Ohio record sealing case takes approximately four to five months. However, that is just the average time frame and depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA objects or not, and the age of the case, cases can either take more or less time.
We cannot expedite the process through the court, because they handle cases in the order they are filed. We will do everything we can to get your case filed as quickly as possible. Also, we can write your employer or potential employer a letter to let them know that we are in the process of having your case sealed.
You file in the court where you were sentenced. § 2953.32(A)(1). For dismissed cases (arrest records) you file in the court where the case was pending prior to the dismissal. §2953.32(A)(2).
You will receive a court order sealing your case. All of the relevant state criminal justice agencies will be updated to reflect your case was sealed and your case was closed. §2953.32(C)(2)
If for some reason your case was to be denied, we would evaluate the reason and determine the best way to proceed. If we do not think that refiling would be successful or we recommend you wait longer to refile, then there is the money-back guarantee for certain services.
The case can still be used in subsequent criminal cases, and law enforcement and prosecutors can view the sealed records. The prosecuting attorney may be access to the records to determine eligibility to enter a pre-trial diversion program in the future.
You do not have to disclose the case and can answer with confidence to any inquiry and it is deemed to have never occurred. § 2953.32(D)
In most cases, you can truthfully say you were not convicted to any question for employment. Ohio Revised Code section 2953.33(B)(1) states a person may be questioned only with respect to convictions not sealed, bail forfeitures not expunged or sealed unless “the question bears a direct and substantial relationship to the position for which the person is being considered.” Moreover, if you have been permanently excluded under sections 3301.121 and 3313.662 of the Revised Code due to a conviction then the board of education of the city, local, exempted village, or joint vocational school district can still maintain the records and the sealing does not revoke the permanent exclusion. However, you may still present the sealing order to a district superintendent as evidence to support revoking permanent exclusion. (Ohio Revised Code section 2953.32(G)).
Termination of registration should be filed under OH Revised Code section 2950.15 instead of sealing.
The Canadian government has access to the same information the United States has on file. A record sealing will make it so they should not be able to see the case any longer and will improve the odds of being able to enter into Canada.
Voting rights are restored after release from incarceration. §2961.01(A)
Every person's case is unique, and getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case or if getting your record sealed could benefit your immigration status, you should contact a qualified immigration attorney. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
No. You should file for a restoration under OH Revised Code section 2923.14 instead of a record sealing. In addition, there is also a lifetime prohibition under federal law (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
In Ohio, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are at least eighteen years of age, and 2) have not lost your right to serve on a jury by having been convicted of a certain type of crime, unless you have had your rights restored. Civil rights are restored to those with convictions upon final release from parole or post-release control. § 2967.16(C) http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1901.25 https://www.ohiobar.org/ForPublic/Resources/LawFactsPamphlets/Pages/LawFactsPamphlet-22.aspx http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2967.16
According to Ohio Revised Code section 2151.357(A)(3) for a conviction expungement, all the “records of the case maintained by any public office or agency, except fingerprints held by a law enforcement agency, DNA specimens collected pursuant to section 2152.74 of the Revised Code, and DNA records derived from DNA specimens pursuant to section 109.573 of the Revised Code.”
For a dismissed case expungement, according to Ohio Revised Code section 2953.52(B)(4) all the “official records pertaining to the case be sealed.” Ohio Revised Code section 2953.51 defines official records as “all records that are possessed by any public office or agency that relate to a criminal case.”
Once your case is sealed, the case cannot be viewed by the public, nor will your case appear in criminal history background checks. Your record will not show an occurrence of the offense. However, even after the record is sealed, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors still have access to the records. §2953.32(D)
The agencies are sent the court order and will then seal their records.
The court updates the court records within 48 hours and the OH DPS typically updates their records within 30 days.
Traffic offenses are not eligible for sealing. §2953.36.