As of early April 2023, true expungement exists in Ohio. For years, lawyers, judges, everyone called record sealing an expungement, but really, we didn’t have expungement till a couple months ago. The easiest way to think about the difference between sealing and expungement is this: sealing puts the conviction in a locked drawer and only certain folks have a key, and expungement destroys the record entirely. Obviously, it’s a given that expungement is a better option than sealing when it is available but both sealing, and expungement are good options to help clear up old criminal convictions.
Let’s start with sealing.
It may be easier to start with what you CAN’T seal.
You still can’t seal felonies of the first and second degree, felony offenses of violence, and offenses where the victim is under 13. Eligible felonies of the third degree can be sealed but an applicant can only seal two third degree felonies.
An application to seal a conviction can be made 1 year after final discharge in misdemeanors and felonies of the fourth and fifth degree, three years after final discharge for felonies of the third degree, and a change to the statute is that an application to seal a minor misdemeanor can be made 6 months after final discharge.
A big change to the statute is that you can now seal a sex offense that is a third-, fourth- or fifth-degree felony so long as five years have passed since the individual completed any sex offender registration requirements. Note that the above ineligibility on sealing cases where the victim is under 13 would apply here and would make some convictions ineligible. An example of a conviction that is eligible is gross sexual imposition or sexual imposition (where the victim was not under 13) which are tier 1 registration which is once a year for fifteen years with possible early termination after ten years.
Another big change to the sealing statute is that misdemeanor offenses of violence can now be sealed. This excludes domestic violence of the first and fourth degree and violation of a protection order, but other misdemeanor offenses of violence can be sealed. An example of an eligible misdemeanor offense of violence that can be sealed is aggravated menacing.
Now, for the brand spankin’ new expungement!
You can still only seal, not expunge, misdemeanor offenses of violence and eligible sex offenses.
You can expunge an eligible misdemeanor or felony of the fourth or fifth degree 11 years after final discharge and you can expunge an eligible felony of the third degree 13 years after final discharge. You can still seal in the time periods listed above (1 year for everything besides third-degree felonies which are three years) and then expunge at the 11- and 13-year mark. You can also expunge and not just seal a dismissal that is entered after an individual completes Intervention in Lieu of Conviction.
If you have a conviction or convictions that have been sealed and you now want to see if you are eligible to have them expunged, or if you want to start the process for sealing and/or expungement, please reach out and we will evaluate your case at no cost to you.
You can reach us at (216) 736-8551 option 1 or [email protected].