Changes occurred in Ohio’s criminal law on October 29, 2018, When the expanded record-sealing statute took effect. Now, more individuals convicted of crimes have the opportunity to seal or expunge their records. The answers to these frequently asked questions below may help you understand what the expungement and sealing laws allow and how eligible offenders will benefit.
Questions About Expunging and Sealing Records in Ohio
How do expungement and sealing differ?
Under Ohio criminal law, expungement means a criminal record is permanently destroyed, deleted, or erased, and no one can ever retrieve it. Expunging a document differs from sealing a record. When a record is sealed, it still exists, but only specific government agencies and law enforcement officials can access it and only for limited reasons.
Can a felony be sealed?
Yes. Fourth and fifth-degree non-violent, non-sexual felonies can be sealed, up to a limit of five offenses. There is no limit on the number of misdemeanors that can be sealed. Although you can seal many criminal records, you cannot always expunge them.
What types of crimes cannot be expunged?
You can erase limited types of criminal records under Ohio criminal law, including most juvenile records, certain gun offenses, and crimes committed by victims of human trafficking. To determine whether your charge or conviction can be sealed or expunged, consult your county public defender, The Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC), or a private criminal law attorney.
How can I qualify for sealing or expunging of a record?
To qualify for record sealing or expunging, you must complete a waiting period, which starts once you finish your time in prison, jail, or community control. The waiting period is one year for misdemeanor convictions and three years for a fourth- or fifth-degree felony conviction. To seal or expunge two felony convictions, the waiting period is four years. Expunging three to five felony convictions can happen after a five-year wait.
The expungement and record-sealing processes are complicated, so you should seek help from an experienced criminal law attorney. The Law Office of Lawrence W. Henke, III, offers more than 40 years of experience in advising and representing clients in Dayton, OH, and the surrounding areas. Visit his website or call (937) 461-9330 to schedule a consultation to learn more about your rights.