The best way to start answering a question about which criminal charges you can have removed from your record in Ohio is probably to list the offenses that would remain publically searchable for your entire life. Per Section 2953.36 of the Ohio Revised Code, convictions for the following crimes cannot be expunged:
- Felony or first-degree misdemeanor assault
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated/Drunk or drugged driving
- Most first- and second-degree felonies
- Aggravated murder
- Sex crimes in which the alleged victim was younger than 18 years of age
- Sexual battery
- Felonious sexual penetration
- Inducing panic (e.g., causing a riot, making terroristic threats)
- Inciting to violence
- Jailed for failure to pay child support to a legal dependent younger than 16 years of age
- Jailed for not paying traffic fines
Traffic violations also generally do not qualify for expungement since few of them are treated as crimes.
This list of exclusions leaves all virtually all other types of lower-level felonies and misdemeanors as candidates for expungement. A final consideration regarding expungements in general is that a sealed criminal record can often be reopened by court order. Ohio law grants state and federal law enforcement officers, prosecutors, parole and probation officers, and government officials to request access to expunged records. In Ohio, sealing a criminal record does not always equate with destroying it.
Determining Eligibility for Expungement
To apply for having a conviction placed off-limits from a public records search, you must
- Satisfy (“discharge” in legalese) all the terms of your sentence, including probation after release from incarceration and making restitution
- Complete a waiting period of one year after discharging your sentence for a misdemeanor offense or of three years after discharging your sentence for a felony offense
- Submit a petition and fee to the court that convicted you
Ohio courts also have the authority to automatically seal juvenile records. This can happen after the person who was convicted of an expungable offense while under the age of 18 turns 23 or at any time after five have passed since the person discharged his or her juvenile sentence. Avoiding arrests and convictions following a first conviction goes a long way toward ensuring your juvenile record will be expunged.
Be aware that as of 2016, Ohio allowed people to ask for expungement of only one felony, one felony and one misdemeanor, or two misdemeanors. What counts as a felony or misdemeanor for the purposes of an expungement petition can get complicated. Rules vary depending on whether the offenses were related and if the sentences were handed down in different jurisdictions. Hiring a Columbus expungement attorneyto figure this out will increase your chances of having your request to get your record sealed approved.
Your expungement attorney will also make sure you fill out all the paperwork correctly, collect and attach all necessary supporting documents, and file your petition with the appropriate court. Your lawyer will then represent you during the hearing on your expungement petition.