In Ohio, adult convictions cannot be expunged or completely erased from record. Instead of expunging Ohio laws allow a criminal record to be sealed. (Ohio Revised Code 2953.31-2953.62). http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2953.31. When a record is sealed, the information (electronic and paper) is stored in a secure separate location. It still exists, but is available only by a limited poll of individuals.
There are different rules and processes for sealing the various kinds of criminal records. To find out what kind of criminal record you have; the most valuable source for verification is the clerk of court where the case was handled.
You can apply for record sealing without legal counsel, but it can be rejected if not properly filed. Most legal aid offices will assist you with the process and it is advised that you use them or legal counsel.
The following is a limited explanation of the rules for a convicted complaint:
The law states that certain convictions can never be sealed:
An offense with a mandatory prison term
A first or second degree felony
A first degree misdemeanor or felony when the victim was under 18 years of age except for non-support of dependents
A offense of violence; see definitions of this offense under Ohio Revised Code
Various traffic offenses can never be sealed.
There are some exceptions if they are misdemeanors.
The number of convictions determines whether or not the records could be sealed; the basic rule is: the offender can have at most two misdemeanor convictions or one misdemeanor and one felony conviction. There are various ways to determine the count. If you exceed the limits on the number of convictions, you will have your request denied.
If you have no charges pending against you.
You must wait a certain amount of time after a final discharge of a sentence for your conviction before you may apply for the record to be sealed.
The following is a limited explanation of the rules for a non-convicted complaint; either dismissed or you were found not guilty or acquitted:
You cannot get dismissed charges sealed unless you can get the convicted charges sealed as well.
If the charge was presented to the Grand Jury, who then decided that there was not enough evidence to go forward on the charges. They in turn issued a No Bill. You must wait two years from the date of the No Bill to apply.
If you have any criminal charges pending against you, your record cannot be sealed.
Contact the clerk of courts office for the court information which should include the case numbers of all your convictions and all your non-convictions. The information should include the degree of each of your offenses, the date of conviction or non-conviction, and the date you completed your sentences if applicable.
Obtain from the clerk of courts the expungement/sealing application form(s). Expungement Form
Complete the form(s) and make copies as indicated on the form(s).
File the form in the county where the case originated. Filing fee for Trumbull County Court Central Division is $60.00 for a case with a conviction and $40.00 for a case that was dismissed. This fee is payable upon filing motion and is due regardless if you qualify or not. If you cannot afford the fee, you have the right to have the fee waived. Ask for a poverty affidavit form to file to have the fee waived. The Judge will accept or reject either of the forms filed. The clerk of courts will schedule a hearing date and notify all parties involved.
The prosecutor may file an objection that would block the sealing of your records. The objection will include the specific reasons before the hearing. Between your filing and the date of hearing, the Probation Department will verify that you are eligible; that may include that they run a national criminal background check.
Go to the hearing. If you don’t show up, your application for record sealing will most likely be denied. The Judge will review the strict eligibility rules and decide whether or not that your records be sealed at the hearing. In some cases he may decide after the hearing, and you will be notified by mail.
It usually takes at least six weeks for the notices to be sent to the police and other agencies to seal all records pertaining to your case. Listed below are the agencies where
The law enforcement official in charge of the agency of organization which caused the Defendant's arrest;
The prosecuting Attorney of Trumbull County, Ohio;
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the office of the Attorney General of the State of Ohio;
The Regional Computer Center (RCC);
9-1-1 Call Center;
Trumbull County Sheriff's Department; and
Once sealed, you can legally answer questions about convictions on job applications, housing applications, and etc. that you have not been convicted of the sealed convictions.
Exception: State law permits several types of employers, such as police agencies, child care providers, schools, and nursing homes to see your sealed record if you apply for a job with them.