Having a criminal record can have far-reaching consequences, making it difficult to find housing or secure employment. Fortunately, low-level and first-time offenders in Ohio are often able to have their criminal records sealed, so if you were arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense in Ohio and have questions about whether you qualify for record sealing, please reach out to an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer who can give your petition the best possible chance of success.
What is Record Sealing?
Ohio law does not actually allow for the expungement, or the removal or destruction, of a criminal record. Instead, courts are allowed to seal certain criminal records, which means that any records of a person’s charges, arrest, or conviction, though not destroyed, will be inaccessible by most people. For instance, most employers and landlords do not have access to sealed criminal records, although there are exceptions for certain professions, including law enforcement or professional licensing boards. Prosecutors, police officers, and judges will, however, generally still have access to sealed records.
Which Conviction-Related Criminal Records Can Be Sealed?
Under Ohio law, applicants can request that up to five non-violent, non-sexual fourth or fifth-degree felony convictions be sealed. There is, however, no limit to the number of non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanor convictions that a person can have sealed. There are also certain offenses that can never be sealed under Ohio law, regardless of the number of convictions. This includes:
- First and second-degree felony convictions;
- Any violent offenses, including assault, robbery, and sexual battery;
- Any sexual offenses, including unlawful sexual contact with a minor;
- Vehicle-related offenses, such as DUI, hit-and-run convictions, and street racing; and
- Traffic offenses, which cannot be sealed, but also don’t technically count as criminal convictions.
For help determining whether you qualify for the sealing of your criminal record, please call our experienced criminal defense legal team today.
When Can I Request That My Record be Sealed?
A person can only request that his or her record be sealed if that individual’s case has been fully discharged, which means that he or she has:
- Fully completed any jail or prison sentence;
- Paid necessary court costs;
- Paid restitution; and
- Completed parole or probation.
Requesting record sealing is also only possible after a certain amount of time has passed. Applicants who were convicted of a misdemeanor, for instance, must wait a full year after discharge before requesting record sealing. To seal a third, fourth, or fifth-degree felony, on the other hand, a person must wait three years before applying. Finally, to seal two, fourth and fifth-degree felonies, an applicant must wait four years, while a person seeking the sealing of three to five, fourth and fifth-degree felonies will need to wait five years before submitting a petition.
An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ohio
For more information on sealing your own criminal record, please call the dedicated criminal defense legal team at the Comunale Law Office today.