A past mistake or a poor decision can leave you with a criminal record that will follow you throughout life. Luckily, the Ohio courts have mercy on those that have made a terrible mistake. An expungement can give you a second chance. If a criminal record is expunged, for all intents and purposes the court proceedings surrounding the arrest are considered not to have occurred.
There are two expungement scenarios:
Records are simply sealed. In this instance the expunged records are still available to law enforcement, sentencing judges, subsequent offenses, and correction facilities.
Records are completely destroyed. In this instance, it will be as if the incident never occurred in the first place.
Expungement Eligibility Wait Times
In Ohio, only an “Eligible Offender” may receive an expungement and sealing of their record. The definition of an eligible offender under the Ohio expungement law can be complicated since it’s determined by statute and Ohio case law.
Under Ohio law, there is a waiting period after a criminal case is closed before a person is eligible to apply for an expungement.
- For Misdemeanor Convictions, the waiting period is one year.
- Felony convictions require a waiting period of three years.
- If a person has a record for a bail forfeiture out of a municipal court or county court, the waiting period before they can apply for an expungement and sealing is one year.
- There is no waiting period to file for an expungement and sealing for Dismissed Charges and Acquittal of Charges and they can be sealed any time after the conclusion of the case.
The exception: If you have been charged with two or more offenses in one case, and at least one of the charges has a different sentence or penalty than the of other charges, you may not apply for an expungement for the lesser charge(s) until the expiration of the mandatory waiting period of the serious charge(s).
For example, if you were charged with a misdemeanor and a felony at the same time, you could not apply for misdemeanor expungement until the waiting period has expired for the felonious offense.
There are still exclusions to eligibility even if you’ve met the wait time.
Given that the waiting period for the type of record to be expunged has been met; there are no pending charges against you; and the conviction or record is one permitted by Ohio Expungement Law, then you have to know how many convictions or records can be expunged.
People with the following convictions or combination of convictions are eligible for an expungement and sealing of their record:
- One felony conviction; or
- One misdemeanor conviction; or
- One felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction even if they are not related to the same case, or
- Two misdemeanor convictions even if they are not related to the same case.
It is however, important to note that convictions for minor misdemeanors, including most non-serious traffic offenses do not count as conviction. Further, 2-3 convictions related to the same case are considered as one conviction.
Be aware, that there are a lot of exceptions and qualifications to these rules. Here are some general rules about what types of crimes that are not eligible for expungement:
- First and second-degree felonies
- Conviction of 3 or more crimes out of separate cases
- Conviction of 2 or more felonies out of separate cases
- Conviction of felony sex crimes
- Conviction of first-degree Domestic Violence (felony or misdemeanor)
- Convictions for crimes that carry a mandatory prison sentence
- Felonies and/or first-degree misdemeanors committed against a minor or minors
- Most violent crimes (Misdemeanor Assault can be expunged)
- You cannot obtain an expungement if you have any current pending criminal or traffic charges
It is highly recommended to hire an attorney who understands the complexities in the Ohio Court system. Call Columbus defense attorney Terry Sherman to discuss the process.