In the past, you may have committed a crime that has proven to be out of character for you. You may have been “young and dumb” or caught up with the wrong kind of people who led you into criminal activity. You were convicted in a court of law but have since then gone in the right direction. You would like to have your record cleared in order to allow you to advance your prospects in life, for example, to secure a better job. Fortunately, the State of Ohio has made sealing a criminal record more widely available to people than it was in the past.
The first consideration is eligibility. There are some convictions that are not eligible for sealing, such as traffic offenses, felony offenses of violence, sexual offenses which required registration, offenses against victims less than 13 years old, first-degree and second-degree felonies, two or more third-degree felonies, domestic violence, and violations of a protection order. Evaluation of eligibility is challenging and often requires professional research by an attorney. If your eligibility is uncertain, it is typically worthwhile to check into your specific situation in greater detail.
The second consideration is the passage of time. The State of Ohio wants to make sure that you have turned around your life for a legitimate period. For a misdemeanor or a fourth-degree or fifth-degree felony, the requirement is one year after the final discharge of your case. For a third-degree felony, the time period is three years after final discharge. Discharge means completion of your sentence or community control, which is commonly known as probation.
If it appears that you qualify as an eligible offender, an application to seal your criminal record can be made to the court. Once your application is filed, the next step is typically for the court’s probation officer to check into your life since the time of your conviction and discharge. Hopefully, you have a story of rehabilitation and responsibility since that time. The prosecuting attorney receives a copy of the application and can, however, object with specific reasons to oppose the application for your criminal record to be sealed.
The Court is to schedule a hearing to evaluate your application for the sealing of your criminal record. The prosecutor appears in court and can explain the objection or stand silent. Any victim of the crime may be notified and can object as well. At the hearing, you, as a convicted defendant, with the assistance of counsel, need to demonstrate that you are an eligible offender, have no pending criminal proceedings, have been rehabilitated, and have interests in your criminal record being sealed that outweigh any legitimate needs of the government to maintain the record.
When considering rehabilitation, judges will want to know your age at the time and the facts and circumstances of your criminal offense, how long you have ceased criminal activity, your educational and employment history, and any other relevant factors. In general, you should show how you have demonstrated responsibility since your criminal conviction. Good evidence includes successful work, family, and educational developments in your life. Interests in sealing the record often include better opportunities for career advancement or education.
If granted, your criminal record is then sealed so that it is no longer available for the public to see or investigate. The criminal proceedings shall then be considered not to have occurred.
If you have past criminal convictions and want to clean up your record, call attorney Mark Tipton of Tipton Law Firm, LLC to discuss your situation. There is no fee to speak directly to the attorney about your past criminal cases. The telephone number is 419-636-0010. He will provide a free consultation to see if you may be eligible for the sealing of your criminal record.
Article updated pursuant to amended statutes, effective April 6, 2023
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