Ohio Changes Rules to Seal and Expunge Criminal Records
New Law Expands Who is Eligible for Expungement and Sealing Criminal Records
By Douglas A. Funkhouser, Esq.
For the second time in two years, the Ohio State Legislature passed a new law expanding the class of people eligible to seal a criminal record. In 2012, Ohio Senate Bill 337 changed the requirement of “first offender” to “eligible offender,” expanding the types of convictions and how many convictions that a person can seal and expunge from their criminal record. Now with the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 143, passed in June 2014 and effective September 19, 2014, the law further expands the qualifications for obtaining an expungement. This means that individuals previously denied the expungement/sealing of their record may now be eligible. The significant provisions of the new law include:
- Applicants are now eligible to seal up to two misdemeanor convictions, regardless of whether the two convictions are for the same offense.
- Clarifies that orders to seal records apply to entire case records and not just records of convictions.
- Applicants are permitted to include records for more than one case in a single application. Charging $50 for each case an applicant requests to have sealed is prohibited.
- The court is no longer required to send notice of orders to seal records by certified mail, return receipt requested.
The most impactful of these changes is that an individual with two convictions for the same offense may now qualify to have the records of those same offenses sealed. Now those who are charged with or convicted of a repeat offense are no longer unduly penalized by being automatically disqualified from the ability to apply to have their records sealed. It is important to understand that even if you now qualify to have you record sealed, expungement is not guaranteed and ultimately resides in the discretion of the court. If you were not eligible for an expungement under the old law, and are not sure if you are eligible under the new expungement law, it is important to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can determine if you meet the requirements to be eligible for sealing of your record.
Mr. Funkhouser is well-versed in Ohio laws regarding sealing criminal records and has successfully represented clients in the area. Call Funkhouser Law at (614) 443-5404 to learn how Mr. Funkhouser can be of service to you.