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I have a juvenile criminal record. Which offenses can be sealed?

Changes to Juvenile Law from Senate Bill 337

In 2012, Ohio passed Senate Bill 337. This law changed some of the rules affecting juveniles involved in the criminal justice system. First, more offenses are eligible to be sealed. All juvenile offenses except for Aggravated Murder, Murder, and Rape may be sealed under the new law. "Sealing a record" means that Juvenile Court will separate the record of all delinquency proceedings and place them in a file only the Court can see. After a court seals a record, a person can request the Court expunge it. Expungement permanently destroys the record.

Another change in the law is that juveniles now only have to wait six months after completing their sentence to request that their record be sealed. You can locate the forms to apply for sealing/expungement at the Juvenile Clerk of Courts on the 2nd Floor of the Juvenile Justice Center, 9300 Quincy Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. You do not have to pay a filing fee for a sealing/expungement application.

Juvenile records are not public records and therefore cannot be viewed by the general public. Additionally, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation ("BCI") cannot release juvenile adjudications (convictions) as part of a criminal background check. This means that BCI cannot provide a person's juvenile record to a potential employer. The only exceptions are for cases involving murder and sexually oriented offenses.

Lastly, under the new law, youth charged with delinquencies must stay in the juvenile detention center instead of being moved to the adult county jail. A youth can remain in juvenile detention until they are 21, even if the juvenile judge transfers their case to adult court. Only upon the request of the prosecutor or Juvenile Court can a youth be transferred to adult jail. If transferred to adult jail, a youth is entitled to a review hearing after 30 days and may be returned to the juvenile detention center.

This article was written by Brant DiChiera of the Cuyahoga County Public Defender - Juvenile Division and appeared in The Alert: Volume 29, Issue 2. Click here to read the full issue.

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