How to Seal a Criminal Record in Ohio

Written By: Moermond & Mulligan, LLC

Last Updated: 04-23-2024

Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2024 at 9:00 am    

How to Seal a Criminal Record in OhioIf you have a record for a criminal offense in Ohio, you may wonder, “How do I get my record sealed?” Depending on the nature of the offense, you may be eligible to have the case records sealed or even expunged. In Ohio, record sealing makes the case records unable to be viewed by the public, and expungement eliminates the records as if they never existed.

Because laws concerning record sealing have recently changed and will likely continue to evolve, it is critical to have an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney assist you in properly handling your criminal case and applying to have your records sealed as soon as you are eligible.

Can You Seal a Criminal Record in Ohio?

Yes, you can seal a criminal record in Ohio. Due to recent changes in the law, you may now be able to seal your record even if you were previously ineligible. Sealing a record is different from expungement because the record still exists – it is not erased or deleted.

Although a sealed record still exists, having the record sealed may help you get some jobs or apply to lease property, as most employers and landlords cannot see a sealed record. However, an employer can view your sealed records if you apply for certain jobs, such as law enforcement or childcare. Further, if you are a suspect in a subsequent criminal investigation, law enforcement, the prosecution, and the court can see your sealed records.

To be eligible to seal a record, you cannot have any open or pending criminal cases, such as warrants or traffic violations, and all fines and restitution must be paid in full. Certain waiting periods after criminal convictions must expire before you can petition the court to seal your records.

Although the law was expanded to allow more records to be sealed, specific categories of crimes remain ineligible to be sealed, including first and second-degree felonies, such as murder and rape, traffic offenses, domestic violence convictions, violations of protection orders, crimes against children under age 13, and any sex crimes requiring you to register. 

Sealing a Criminal Record Under the New Law

Effective April 4, 2023, Senate Bill 288 was codified, creating significant changes for the sealing and expunging of criminal records in Ohio, including conviction records, not guilty findings, bail forfeitures, and dismissed charges.

Under the new law Ohio law, specific changes broadening the eligibility for sealing were implemented, including:

  • Up to two felonies of the third degree and various felonies of the fourth and fifth degrees and misdemeanors can apply for sealing.
  • Bail forfeiture can be sealed at the time of forfeiture.
  • Tier 1 Registered sex offenders can apply to have records sealed five years after the court rules they no longer have to register as long as the offense was a third-degree felony or lower and the victim was older than 13 years of age, among other caveats.

Certain waiting periods exist before you can apply to have your record sealed. The length of the waiting period depends on the offense. For example, you can apply to have records related to findings of not guilty, dismissals with prejudice, dismissals without prejudice, or successful completion of intervention in lieu of conviction at any time. However, a felony of the third degree requires a waiting period of three years after the person’s final discharge, whereas a felony of the fourth or fifth degree requires one year. Misdemeanors carry a waiting period of one year after final discharge.

Courts must conduct hearings on Applications for Sealing or Expungement between 45 and 90 days after the application is filed. The prosecutor may file a written objection to your application, but you still must go to your sealing hearing.

At the hearing, you and your attorney will explain how your criminal record is affecting your life, such as making it difficult to find a job or secure an apartment. The judge will consider your argument and the prosecutor’s objection as they assess whether you have been rehabilitated before ordering your records sealed. Having an attorney assist you in the process may be critical to receiving the positive outcome of record sealing that you desire.

Contact an Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Cincinnati, you need Moermond & Mulligan, LLC. We understand that facing criminal charges can be a challenging time in your life. If you need help fighting criminal charges or want to seal a criminal record, contact us online or call us today at (513) 421-9790 to speak to a defense attorney in a free consultation.