Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Ohio

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Though the process of expunging criminal records in Ohio is straightforward, the eligibility requirements for Ohio expungement are complex. There are six conditions that must be met in order for you to be eligible for Ohio expungement (in other words, able to even begin the process of getting your records expunged). The six conditions for eligibility are described below.

  1. The conviction must NOT be for one of the following:
    • Rape
    • Sexual battery
    • Corrupting a minor
    • Gross sexual imposition
    • Sexual imposition
    • Obscenity involving a minor
    • Pornography involving a minor
    • Illegal use of a minor in pornography
    • All drivers license violations (expungement is not offered for minor offenses)
    • Motor vehicle violations (expungement is not offered for minor offenses)
    • Bail forfeitures in traffic cases
    • Misdemeanors of the first degree or felonies where the victim is under the age of 18
    • Felonies of the first or second degree
    • Violent offenses that are misdemeanors of the first degree or felonies, except for
      (1) convictions for riot,
      (2) misdemeanor convictions for assault,
      (3) inciting to violence, and
      (4) inducing panic. If you were convicted for any of these, you are still eligible for Ohio expungement.

    If you are confused at all about whether your crime falls into an accepted category or a rejected category, consult an Ohio criminal attorney. Some attorneys waive fees for an initial consultation or case evaluation.

  2. Your Ohio conviction cannot be expunged if you were required to serve a mandatory prison term for the conviction. If you were eligible for probation for the conviction that you want to have expunged, then you are probably eligible for expungement. Otherwise, if you were sentenced to prison (and NOT eligible for probation), you are almost certainly not eligible for expungement in Ohio.
  3. In order to have your Ohio conviction expunged, you must be a first offender. This means that this conviction is your first and only conviction in Ohio or in any other jurisdiction. However, there are two exceptions to this:
    • Effective July 6, 2010, if two or more convictions resulted from the same criminal act or resulted from offenses committed at the same time, the convictions will be counted as one conviction for expungement purposes. When two or three convictions result from the same indictment/complaint, or from the same guilty plea, and result from RELATED criminal acts committed within three months of each other but DO NOT result from offenses committed at the same time, then a judge will only count those convictions as one conviction if he or she determines that doing so would not be against the public interest.
    • If your other convictions were for minor misdemeanors, including most traffic offenses, those convictions don’t count as criminal, and they are unlikely to stop you from pursuing your expungement claim. Still, if you have traffic offenses on your record, it would not hurt to speak with an Ohio criminal lawyer to make sure you are still eligible for Ohio expungement.
  4. If the conviction you wish to have expunged was for a misdemeanor, at least 1 year must have passed since its final discharge (in other words, since the end of probation or completion of jail time). If the conviction was for a felony, at least 3 years must have passed since its final discharge.
  5. Your eligibility for Ohio expungement requires that at the time of application, you have NO other criminal or traffic hearings pending in court. This is extremely important’ even minor traffic incidents that are unlikely to affect your eligibility for expungement MUST BE RESOLVED BEFORE APPLYING for expungement of any record.
  6. You can only have one conviction expunged from your criminal record. If you have had another conviction expunged in the past, you are not eligible for the procedure again. However, there is one exception to this rule. Effective July 6, 2010, if you have two or three convictions resulting from the same indictment, information, complaint, or guilty plea, or those two or three convictions resulted from related but different criminal acts that were committed within a three-month period, then the court will consider counting those two or three convictions as one conviction. Thus, you may be able to have multiple convictions expunged at once.

An experienced Ohio criminal attorney can help you sort through any previous offenses you may have had, check with all the courts regarding any possible hearings that are pending, and advocate on your behalf that the judge should consider your multiple related convictions as one conviction, if applicable. Generally, an attorney can do this much more efficiently than you can, so the minimal fees associated with hiring an attorney for this process will be worthwhile considering the benefits of a sealed Ohio criminal record.

For more information on Ohio expungements, see the following articles:

Overview of Ohio Criminal Record Expungements

Process for Expunging or Sealing Criminal Adult Records in Ohio

Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records in Ohio

Process for Expunging or Sealing Juvenile Records in Ohio

Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge or Seal my Criminal Record in Ohio?

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