Many Ohioans struggle to find a job or housing after being convicted of a crime. Ohio's law makers saw the difficulties faced by people with criminal records and passed a law (SB 66) that allows more people to have their criminal records sealed. SB 66 aims to reduce recidivism and prison time for low-level, non-violent, non-sex offenders, who make up the fastest growing portion of the state’s prison population due to the drug epidemic.
When you seal an adult criminal record in Ohio, the record is not erased. Instead, the criminal record is hidden from the public and most employers. Some employers, such as those that hire nurses, nursing assistants, or child care providers, will still be able to see the record after it is sealed. It will always be available to judges and police officers.
The following information describes generally who in Ohio is eligible to apply to have a criminal record sealed. Note, this information does NOT apply to juvenile criminal records. Click here for information about sealing juvenile records.
In Ohio as of 10/2018, to be eligible to seal a criminal record, you must meet one of two sets of criteria. If you meet the requirements listed under either Criteria A or Criteria B below, you may qualify to seal your criminal record.
Criteria A: First, you may be eligible if you have:
- No more than five 4th or 5th degree felony
- Unlimited number of misdemeanors, AND
- No 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree felony convictions, AND
- No felony sex offense convictions, AND
- No violent crime convictions (felony or misdemeanor).
If you meet this criteria, you may be able to seal all of your convictions, including felonies and misdemeanors. If you do not qualify under Criteria A, you may still be eligible to seal your records if you satisfy the following:
Criteria B: You may be eligible if you have NO MORE THAN:
- Two misdemeanor convictions; OR
- One misdemeanor and one felony conviction
ALL convictions are considered, regardless of how long ago they happened or where they occurred (including
other state and federal courts).
Even if you are eligible to seal your records, some convictions can never be sealed, including traffic and OVI/DUI offenses, serious crimes of violence, most crimes involving children, most sex crimes, and 1st or 2nd degree felonies. Also, the prosecutor may object to the request to seal criminal records. It is up to the court to decide whether to allow a record to be sealed. You can usually seal records of “minor misdemeanor” convictions, dismissed cases, “no bills” and “not guilty” verdicts even if you fail both tests listed above.
The link above to the self help sealing record page, where you can enter your personal information, will help you determine whether or not your offense is or is not eligible to be sealed.
Sealing a criminal record in Ohio is a “privilege,” not a “right.” This means a judge must review each person’s application to seal a record and decide first if the person is eligible, and then whether or not to grant the sealing.
You can read more about options for people with a criminal record at http://lasclev.org/category/faqs/work-faqs/