A criminal conviction can have consequences long after you have served any possible or your mandatory sentence. Your criminal record status could mean the loss of your gun rights, an inability to attend school, or disqualify you from certain housing or job possibilities. If you have worked hard to distance yourself from any alleged wrongdoing in your past, you may be able to seal your criminal record.
When you apply to seal a criminal record in Ohio, all of your previous convictions will be considered, even those that occurred in other states or in federal courts. In addition, a prosecutor can object to your request to seal criminal records, and you will need an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney to convince the court that you deserve a second chance.
Meeting the Qualifications of Sealing Your Criminal Record in Ohio
Ohio law rarely allows adult convictions to be completely erased, or expunged, from a person’s record. Instead, the state uses a court process called “sealing a criminal record.”
You must meet one of two sets of criteria to be eligible to seal a criminal record. If you meet the requirements of Criteria A, you could potentially seal multiple convictions, including felonies and misdemeanors.
Criteria A covers offenders who have all of the following:
- No convictions of any first-, second-, or third-degree felony convictions
- Less than six, fourth- or fifth-degree felony convictions
- No convictions for felony sex offenses
- No felony or misdemeanor violent crime convictions (not including misdemeanor assault)
- No first-degree misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence
- Any number of misdemeanor convictions
If you do not qualify under Criteria A, you may still be eligible under Criteria B if you have either:
- Been convicted of two misdemeanor offenses
- Been convicted of one misdemeanor and one felony
It’s important to understand that eligibility is only one hurdle you will have to overcome. In Ohio, some convictions—including DUIs, most violent crimes, some sex crimes, and first- or second-degree felonies—can never be sealed regardless of how long ago they happened.
When Can I Start the Process to Seal a Criminal Record?
There is a mandatory waiting period between the time you have completed your sentence and the time you may apply to have your records sealed. The waiting period will only begin after you have served ay required your jail time, paid all fines/court costs and restitution, completed any community service, and successfully completed your term of probation.
If your case was dropped, dismissed, or you were found not guilty, you can file any time after the judgement. Otherwise, the length of the waiting period depends on the type of and number of criminal convictions, as well as the specific details of your case.
For example, you may have to wait over a year to seal:
- Misdemeanor convictions. Multiple misdemeanors can be sealed after waiting at least one year after the completion of a sentence or probation.
- Arrests and charges without convictions. If you were charged with a crime but not indicted, you must wait at least two years from the time your case was dropped.
- One felony conviction. You must wait three years before applying to seal a single felony conviction.
- Two felony convictions. You can apply four years after completing your sentence and probation for two felony convictions.
- Three to five felony convictions. At least five years must pass before you can apply to seal records for more than three (but less than five) felony convictions.
I Meet All the Requirements. What Do I Do Now?
You should contact our office as soon as possible. We will need to know the details of your complete criminal record, including any convictions, dismissals, dropped charges, arrests, and warnings. Once we have gathered all documentation from each court relating to your record, we can begin to prepare your best possible case.
Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Cincinnati, OH?
If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation.