Ohio Expands Criminal Record Sealing Eligibility

On April 12, 2021, the definition of an eligible offender under the Ohio Conviction Sealing law will expand to include more Ohioans in need of record relief. A provision in House Bill 1 (HB 1), signed into law on January 7th, 2021 by Governor Mike Dewine, will remove limits on the number of convictions for certain felonies and misdemeanors, and reduce required waiting periods to allow individuals to apply for relief sooner than under the previous law. The eligibility expansion contained in HB 1 represents a recognition on the part of Ohio lawmakers that the impact of a conviction can weigh on an individual well beyond their initial term of sentence.

House Bill 1 expands the definition of an “eligible offender” under the Conviction Records Sealing law. Under previous law, an individual faced a cap of no more than five felony convictions in order to be eligible for a record sealing. There was not a limit on misdemeanor convictions, unless the individual also had felony convictions, which would then trigger the five felony conviction limit. There will now be no limit on the number of felony convictions an individual may have on their record if all of the convictions are either a felony in the fourth degree, a felony if the fifth degree, or a misdemeanor. The conviction cannot be for a crime of violence or a sex offense. For those applicants who have a conviction for a felony in the third degree or are otherwise not able to take advantage of the regular sealing law, a different set of conditions will apply for eligibility. These applicants may now have up to a total of four convictions on their record, and of those four, not more than two can be felonies.

The final change to the sealing eligibility is the reduction of the waiting period lengths. Now, someone who is convicted of a felony in the fourth degree, a felony in the fifth degree, or most misdemeanors will be eligible for a sealing one year from their date of final discharge. Those convicted of an eligible felony in the third degree will be eligible after three years from their date of final discharge. A misdemeanor conviction for Soliciting or Accepting Improper Compensation will require seven years to pass from the date of final discharge before being eligible. This represents a change for those with felony convictions, who previously had different waiting periods conditioned on the number of felony convictions they had on their record.

The recalibration of eligibility represents a recognition of the impact a conviction has on someone’s ability to move forward in life, while also respecting the public safety need of having available the record of someone who has committed particularly dangerous crimes. A balancing act that allows for second chances and progress for those individuals who can reform themselves.

If you were previously told you were ineligible for a sealing because of too many convictions on the record, or that not enough time had passed, please contact us today to see if you are now eligible. You can call us at (877) 573-7273 or take our online eligibility test here. We would be happy to help you achieve your second chance!

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