For those in Ohio who have a criminal record — and certainly those who were previously ineligible to have their record expunged — please know that, effective October 29, 2018, Ohio has greatly expanded the eligibility requirement for criminal expungements.
An “expungement” is the legal process for which an individual’s criminal record of arrest or record of criminal conviction is sealed. It’s important to know that the record is not destroyed but, rather, sealed. Meaning the record is maintained, however, is not subject to public disclosure. The legal effect of having your record “sealed” or “expunged” is that the crime for which you were charged or convicted did not happen. It is wiped clean.
In Ohio, three statutes are important to know and understand if you are interested in having your criminal record or criminal conviction expunged. First, R.C. § 2953.31(A) defines who is an “eligible offender.” Next, R.C. § 2953.32(A) sets forth the waiting period before someone can file for an expungement. Finally, R.C. § 2953.36 sets forth various offenses are simply ineligible to be sealed.
R.C. § 2953.31(A) – NEW LAW GREATLY INCREASES ELIGIBILITY
Perhaps the most significant change in Ohio’s new expungement law is the definition of “eligible offender.” Previously an eligible offender was a person who had not more than “one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions , or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction.” If you had two felonies, you were ineligible. If you had a felony and two misdemeanors, you were ineligible. If you had three misdemeanors, you were ineligible.
Now, a person can have up to FIVE felonies and UNLIMITED misdemeanors and still be ELIGIBLE. If you have a felony conviction or convictions, those convictions must ALL be of the fourth degree (F4) or fifth degree (F5), must be non-violent, and must not be sexually-oriented in order to have ANY conviction sealed. So, if you have not more that five non-violent, non-sexual felonies, that are all F4 or F5, you can get those, as well as ALL of your misdemeanor convictions, if any, sealed.
R.C. § 2953.32(A) – WAITING PERIOD TO FILE
Under the old law, an eligible offender had to wait one year upon the conclusion of a misdemeanor sentence or three years for a felony. Under the new law, the “waiting period” is:
ONE year – Misdemeanor convictions
THREE years – One felony conviction
FOUR years – Two felony convictions
FIVE years – Three, four, or five felony convictions
The waiting period starts to run once the sentence has expired; meaning you’ve satisfied all conditions of the sentence, probation, post-release control, or otherwise discharged.
R.C. § 2953.36 – CONVICTIONS THAT CANNOT BE SEALED
Although there were major changes in terms of eligibility, certain offenses simply cannot be sealed:
Convictions for first degree (F1) and second degree (F2) felonies
Most sexually oriented offenses and those that are otherwise not excluded but where the victim is under the age of 18
Sexually oriented offenses otherwise not excluded where the victim is
Convictions under chapter 4507, 4510, 4511, or 4549 of the Revised Code
Felony and misdemeanor offenses of violence (with the exception of assault, riot, inducing panic, and inciting violence)
Felony or first degree misdemeanor (M1) convictions where the victim of the offense was less than 16 years old (with the exception of Criminal Non-support)
Offenses that carry mandatory prison sentences
Want to find out if you’re eligible to have a conviction, or convictions, sealed? Please contact Scott for a no cost, no obligation consultation and case evaluation.