Posted May 17, 20238:00 pm
By Tonya Sams
In April, changes went into effect in Ohio to the record sealing and expungement law. This allows even more people to be eligible than before.
The first change was clarifying the true definitions of “record sealing” and “expungement.” An expungement erases a criminal record. The record will be almost non-existent to most public and all private entities. When a person’s record is sealed, they are not obligated to reveal a conviction when applying for a job and depending upon the nature of the job, most employers will not be able to see the criminal record. Some public entities may be able to see the sealed record. In both cases, once a case has been sealed or expunged, the conviction is viewed as never happening.
Other changes to the record sealing and expungement law are the expanded list of offenses that are now eligible and shortened wait times to be eligible to apply.
There are some convictions that are not eligible to be sealed or expunged including sex offenses that require registration (there are some exceptions when registration is no longer required), felonies that involve violent acts, 1st and 2nd degree felonies, three or more 3rd degree felonies in one case, those involving domestic violence or a protection order being violated, crimes against children under the age of 13 (does not include the failure to pay child support, which can be expunged or sealed), and traffic and OVI/DUI offenses.
Before a conviction can be sealed or expunged it must first be discharged. Discharged means that the terms of parole or probation have been met, the term of a jail or prison sentence has been completed, and all payments of fines and fees that was a penalty of the conviction have been made (unpaid court costs should not cause an application to be denied). After the case has been discharged, there is a waiting period. The length of the waiting period depends upon the offense that was committed.
Lauren Gilbride, Managing Attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, said that a common question is what is the cost of getting your record sealed.
“It should not be more than $50,” said Gilbride. “The Public Defenders Office or Legal Aid can help with a waiver if eligible.”
You can get assistance from an attorney or apply on your own for record sealing or expungement. Before applying gather as much information as possible on all criminal cases, past and present. This includes information on convictions, arrests, dismissals, nolles and bills. The Clerk of Courts is a good place to start to gather this information.
After filing, you may be required to appear before the court for a hearing. When applying there is a possibility that the prosecutor may object to your filing. If a court hearing is scheduled, be prepared to respond to the prosecutor's objection and explain why your application should be approved.
For those who are not eligible for either expungement or sealing of a criminal record there are other options - either a pardon or a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE). A pardon is when the governor forgives someone for a crime and they can no longer be penalized for it. The Court of Common Pleas will give someone a CQE to help them overcome obstacles to getting employment.
To learn more about expungement and record sealing go to Expungement and Record Sealing - Office of the Public Defender (cuyahogacounty.us)
To learn more about the CQEs, visit https://lasclev.org/cqe/andhttps://drc.ohio.gov/cqe. If you are eligible for a CQE, Legal Aid may be able to help. Call Legal Aid at 888-817-3777 during normal business hours or apply online 24/7 at https://lasclev.org/contact/.
Published in The Lakewood Observer: Changes To Ohio Law May Increase Chances Of Eligibility For Record Sealing Or Expungement Of Criminal Records