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Are You Familiar With the Optional Private Record Update Service?

Ohio law provides the opportunity for some people who were convicted of a crime to seal their record.  Sealing a record means information about the conviction is removed from public databases and cannot generally be viewed by landlords or employers in most circumstances.


Some employers and landlords get their background checks directly from government agencies, but most use private companies. Some private background check companies could take up to a year to remove your record from their database.  During the delay, your record could be made available to potential employers, landlords, or others who purchase a private background check on you.

In the most recent Ohio budget bill, new laws were passed that created a new service to address this issue.  Ohio has contracted with a company that will tell private background check companies to promptly remove your sealed records from their private databases. This service does not affect how your record is treated by government agencies; it only affects private background information.

How the Process Works

When you file the application to seal your record at the clerk of court, you should be given the option to pay an additional $45 for this service.  The extra $45 fee for this service is separate from the $50 filing fee and is payable to the clerk when you apply to seal your records.  A Poverty Affidavit cannot be used to waive the extra $45 fee.  When you file to seal your records, you must either pay the extra $45 fee or opt out of the service.

If your request to seal a record is granted and you have paid the extra $45, then the court will notify the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates who will instruct private background check companies to promptly remove your sealed record from all future background check reports.  If your request to seal a record is denied, then the extra $45 fee for this service is returned to you by the court.

Things to Be Aware of 

  • This service will not affect background checks ordered from government agencies.
  • This service can more quickly remove your sealed record from private databases reducing the chance that a sealed record will get reported to a prospective landlord or employer.
  • Even if you pay for this service, the courts will not guarantee that every record of your case will be completely removed from all private background check companies.

If you want to apply to seal a misdemeanor or juvenile record in Cuyahoga County, or any criminal record in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, or Lorain Counties, call 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help from Legal Aid.  If you want to apply to seal a felony in Cuyahoga County, contact the Public Defender at 216-443-7223.

This article was written by Gerry Meader and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 2. 

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