Expungement Guide

Ohio Expungement

Expunge means to erase or complete annihilate something, such as a criminal record. Each state has its own specific rules pertaining to expungement. In Ohio there are two times of expungement: The first expunges a conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony and the second expunges the record of an acquittal. An acquittal means that you have been tried and found not guilty or innocent.

Although most individuals are more than satisfied with a "not guilty" verdict, the fact is that the criminal charge is still on the record, somewhere, even if you are acquitted. Future employers may come across the "acquittal," and look askance at the fact that you were charged, although found not guilty. For this reason, those who are acquitted of a charge or charges may ask that their record be expunged.

You have every right to petition the court in which you were acquitted to seal the records pertaining to the proceedings; however, that doesn't necessarily mean it will happen. The Ohio Supreme Court rules that the privacy interest of the defendant may be outweighed by public interest in keeping the records of the particular criminal proceeding, which can be made available for justifiable purposes. Nevertheless the person's request must be taken under consideration.

Plea Bargaining
If you consider taking a plea bargain be aware that the outcome may not be an expungeable offense. You are stuck with it on your record forever.

Qualification for Expungement
In order to seal a conviction record or expunge it, in Ohio it must meet all requisites for expungement, which is considered an act of grave created by the state, so says Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals, and not a right or a privilege. Statuatory provisions regulate the sealing of a record. To qualify for expungement in Ohio, the applicant must be eligible, which means he must be a first offender, and the offense must be one that is subject to being expunged. The application for expungement can not be filed until the time designated by the revise code has expired.

Cases that are not eligible or expungement include conviction of a violent offense. Other convictions that cannot be expunged include a conviction where the offender must serve a mandatory prison term. All of the sentence that is imposed must be fulfilled to be eligible for statutory expungement in Ohio. You must do your time and comply with probation. If you owe restitution, your record can not be expunged until you make good on that.

When a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity in Ohio, if you are later cured of your mental health problems you can request that your case be expunged.

When considering an application for expungement, the court must determine if the applicant is a first offender. You can only have one conviction, no more, to qualify for expungement. The court must also determine if there are other criminal proceedings pending against him; if the applicant has been rehabilitated to the extent that it satisfies the court; review any objections filed by the prosecutor; weigh the benefits to the applicant of having his record sealed against the needs of the government to maintain these records.

In Ohio, a mandatory expungement hearing is required when an individual petitions the court for such a hearing. The expungement request can not be denied with a hearing. If you are denied an expungement without a hearing, you have grounds for appeal.

See also:
Ohio Misdemeanors External link (opens in new window)
Ohio Felony External link (opens in new window)
Ohio Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)