What Is An Expungement?
Expungement is the legal term for the sealing of a person’s criminal record(s). Sealing your record means the information is not readily available to the public and you do not have to disclose the conviction, arrest or charge when applying for most jobs. Many convictions and non-convictions are eligible to be sealed. The expungement law is designed to give people who have been rehabilitated an avenue for a second chance.
Does Anyone Have Access To My Record Once It Has Been Expunged?
Once a Judge grants your application for expungement it is as if the conviction never occurred for most purposes, however there are exceptions. Law enforcement agencies, some limited government agencies, courts, and some employers in the caregiver profession may retain the ability to access sealed records. Other employers will have no access to it along with the general public. Once a court orders your record(s) sealed, you are legally allowed to state truthfully that the conviction never occurred if asked by a private employer, landlord, or educational institution.
Am I Eligible For Expungement?
For a person to be eligible to have their criminal record expunged they must meet all of the following requirements:
- You must wait the appropriate amount of time after your conviction or dismissal.
- The crime you were convicted of must be an offense that is eligible for expungement.
- You must not have prior convictions in excess of what is allowable.
- Additionally, you must not have any current criminal charges pending with any court.
How Long Do I Have To Wait To Have My Record Expunged?
- For a felony conviction you must wait three (3) years from final discharge. Final discharge would mean you are no longer on probation or post release control.
- If your conviction was for 2 felonies, you must wait four (4) years from the date of final discharge.
- If your conviction was for 3-5 felonies, you must wait five (5) years from the date of discharge.
- For a misdemeanor conviction you must wait one (1) year from the date of discharge.
What Crimes Are Not Eligible To Be Expunged?
The following offenses are not eligible to be expunged under current Ohio law. This list is not exhaustive but is used for illustrative purposes only. To be certain whether your case is eligible for expungement contact the attorneys at Minnillo & Jenkins.
- Offenses that require a mandatory prison term.
- Felonies of the First (1st) or Second (2nd) degree
- Sexual Battery
- Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor
- Sexual Imposition
- Sex crimes involving minors
- V.I. (Operative a Vehicle Under the Influence)
- Driver’s License Offenses under R.C. 4507, 4510 and 4511
- Failing to Stop After an Accident
- Misdemeanor or Felony Offense of Violence with some exceptions such as misdemeanor assault
- Offenses where the victim is less than 16 years of age excepting Non-Payment of Support
- The following offenses if committed after October 10, 2007:
- Public Indecency
- Compelling Prostitution
- Promoting Prostitution
- Enticement of Solicitation of a Prostitute
- Disseminating or Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles
- Pandering Obscenity
- Deception to Obtain Matter Harmful to Juveniles
How Many Convictions Can I Have And Still Be Eligible For Expungement?
This is a complicated question. A recent change in the law has expanded eligibility to many more offenders than the prior law allowed. To know if you do not have excessive convictions you will need to speak with the attorneys at Minnillo & Jenkins.
As a general guideline however:
- There is no longer a limit on eligible misdemeanor offenses
- Up to 5 felony convictions, if they are all felonies of the fourth (4th) or fifth (5th) degree
Can I Apply For Expungement If I Currently Have A Criminal Charge Pending?
No. An eligible offender must not have any charges currently pending.
Can I Have A Non-Conviction Expunged?
Yes. Non-convictions may be expunged however the rules can be complicated. If a person is found not guilty at a trial, they may apply for expungement immediately. If a criminal case is filed against a person and then dismissed without prejudice the person must wait until the appropriate statutory time limitation expired. A dismissal without prejudice means that the State can re-file the charge within a certain time-period and that period must have expired before expungement is eligible.
If a person had a felony presented to a grand jury and no indictment issued this is called a “no bill.” A no bill can be expunged after expiration of a 2-year waiting period.
Can The Court Deny An Expungment For An Eligible Offense?
Yes. A judge has discretion to approve or deny an expungement even for eligible offenses. This is where an attorney can make all the difference. When an application for expungement is filed, the court will initially determine whether the person is an eligible offender. The prosecutor then could file written objections to a persons’ request for expungement. Not only must the court be convinced that the person has been successfully rehabilitated, but the court must also weigh the interest of the person in gaining the expungement versus the interest of the government in maintaining that conviction. The prepared arguments of counsel can often be the crucial factor determining whether records are sealed.
If I Have A Juvenile Conviction Can It Be Sealed?
Yes, juvenile records can often be sealed. Juvenile convictions are known as adjudications rather than convictions, and there are specific rules regarding these adjudications that an attorney at Minnillo & Jenkins can help you navigate.
Why Should I Seek An Expungement?
We all know prior convictions can be a source of personal embarrassment, a bar to gaining certain employment or advancing in that employment. Criminal convictions can also cause problems with education, scholarships, and housing opportunities. Expungement removes your record from public view. Investing in an expungement is a wise and prudent choice that should be considered by all eligible offenders.