The law on expungements and the sealing of criminal convictions in Ohio has been rapidly changing.
In 2012, Governor Kasich signed Ohio Senate Bill 337. This law expands opportunities for individuals to have criminal convictions sealed or expunged. Under the new law, individuals who were previously ineligible, including persons with more than one conviction, may now seek to have their convictions sealed.
“I believe that expungements are appropriate because the worst thing a person has done is not the truest thing about the person.” — Joshua Adam Engel
Previously, a person had to qualify as a “first offender” in order to have their criminal conviction expunged. This meant that anyone with more than one conviction (with the exception of minor misdemeanors and convictions related to the same case) was ineligible for expungement. The new law did away with the first offender requirement. Under the new law, a person may qualify for expungement if he or she has:
not more than one felony conviction,
not more than two misdemeanor convictions if the convictions are not of the same offense, or
not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in Ohio or any other jurisdiction.
The law remains somewhat complicated. In certain circumstances two or more related convictions may be counted as one conviction for purposes of determining an individual’s eligibility for expungement.
Expungement, or the sealing of records, still is not automatic. Courts must review applications, order background checks, permit the prosecutor an opportunity to oppose the expungement, and then conduct a hearing.
The attorneys at Engel & Martin, LLC, as former prosecutors, recognize the honest people make mistakes and bad decisions. They believe that a previous conviction should not destroy a person’s ability to get a job or otherwise cause undue embarrassment.