Even if you’ve repaid your debt to society, having a felony conviction on your record can affect all aspects of your life, including job opportunities, schooling, housing, and family law matters. Naturally, many people begin looking for a way to have their record expunged once they’ve completed their sentence.
Here in Ohio, people previously convicted of felonies or misdemeanors do have some options when it comes to “cleaning up” their criminal record.
New Ohio Expungement Laws
In October 2018, Ohio legislators passed significant changes to existing sealing and expungement laws. The goals of this new legislation are to not only make more people and convictions eligible for expungement but to also create a faster record sealing process.
After taking effect in April 2021, one of the most notable changes to the law includes the fact that anyone convicted of a fourth-degree felony, fifth-degree felony, or misdemeanor offense qualifies for an unlimited number of expungements. However, in order to qualify, all convictions on their criminal record must be fourth and fifth-degree felonies, and/or misdemeanors. You can not qualify for this type of expungement if you have violent crimes, felony sex crimes, DUI/OVI offenses, first-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, or third-degree felonies on your record.
If you don’t qualify for unlimited expungement, you may still be eligible for up to four convictions.
New Waiting Period Requirements for Expungement
In an effort to help people receive expungement or sealing faster, new guidelines were also put in place and vary based on the offense you were found guilty of:
- Misdemeanor convictions – You must wait until one year after your sentence and probation ends.
- Fourth-degree and fifth-degree felony convictions — You must wait until one year after your sentence and probation ends.
- Third-degree felony convictions – You must wait until three years after your sentence and probation ends.
- Conviction of 2921.43 (soliciting or receiving improper compensation) – You must wait until seven years after your sentence and probation ends.
“Expunging” vs. “Sealing” Records
The terms “expunging” and “sealing” are often used interchangeably when people talk about criminal records. However, they have very different meanings within the criminal justice system.
Having Your Record Sealed
If your record is sealed, it’s no longer available to the public through public records. However, it’s important to note that this does not mean your record is destroyed. Sealed records are still available to government agencies, including local, state, and federal law enforcement.
Having Your Record Expunged
In an expungement, all physical and electronic criminal records are destroyed. While many people ultimately want their record expunged, the criteria for expungement is much more strict.
Am I an “Eligible Offender?”
Every criminal case is unique. When you add the fact that laws and regulations regarding criminal records are always changing, the best way to learn if you’re eligible for sealing or expungement is to reach out to an Ohio attorney who can review your case.
Typically, people are eligible if:
- They have met the above-mentioned waiting period.
- Your conviction(s) was non-violent and not a sex crime.
- Your conviction(s) did not involve a minor.
- Your conviction(s) were either misdemeanors or fourth or fifth-degree felonies.
You Can Benefit from Sealing or Expungement if Your Case Was Dismissed
Even if your case was dismissed, meaning you weren’t convicted of a crime, the fact that you were charged is still a matter of public record and can affect your future.
One mistake, especially one made many years ago, should not define the rest of your life. If you’re interested in expunging or sealing your criminal record in Columbus or within the surrounding area, contact The Meranda Law Firm LTD today at (614) 707-4239 for a free initial consultation.