A criminal conviction can pop up at the most inconvenient time, such as when applying to the job of your dreams or when seeking an apartment. Many people are shocked that they need to disclose criminal records that are years, possibly decades, old.
Fortunately, many people can expunge their criminal histories in Ohio. This article explains how, but we encourage you to reach out to an Ohio expungement attorney for a consultation.
Check if You Can Expunge Your Conviction
Not all crimes are eligible. For example, you cannot expunge a conviction for sexual imposition, rape, sexual battery, public indecency, and other sex crimes. Felonies in the first-, second-, and third-degree cannot be expunged, either. Speak with an attorney if you have questions.
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Satisfy the Waiting Period
Ohio law sets a waiting period before a person can apply for expungement. The amount of time will depend on whether you were convicted and the specific crime.
The clock does not begin to run until you have received a termination of the case or a final discharge. For example, you will need to complete all probation, pay all fines, and satisfy any restitution order.
Here are some sample waiting periods:
- Unclassified misdemeanor: 1 year
- Misdemeanor: 1 year from termination of the case
- A single felony conviction: 3 years
A person can also expunge non-convictions, such as dismissals or acquittals, and there is no waiting period.
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Obtain a Copy of Your Conviction
Visit the Clerk of Court where you were sentenced. Ask for a certified copy of “Judgment Order of Conviction.” You will have to pay a small fee. You cannot request expungement with a certified judgment.
Draft an Application
You need to draft an application asking the judge to expunge your record. Your attorney knows how to do this, but if you are representing yourself you should look for printed forms to complete. In Ohio, public libraries have fill-in-the-blank forms you can use. There are two forms you need:
- Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record Pursuant to ORC §2953.32
- Judgment Entry for Sealing
The “Application” will request information such as the charges and case numbers for the convictions you hope to expunge. You will also need the date of convictions and the date of termination.
The “Judgment Entry” is something the judge will sign at the hearing. However, you must provide the requested information in the appropriate lines.
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Assemble the Packet
Attach the “Judgment Order of Conviction” to the “Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record.” You need 3 copies of this combined document. This is what you will file with the Clerk of Court.
Key: You are not filing the Judgment Entry for Sealing. Instead, you take that to the court hearing with you for the judge.
File at the Clerk of Court
Visit the Clerk of Court to file. The clerk should stamp all your copies and give one back to you. This is for your records.
You must pay a fee to file. Call ahead and ask the clerk for the amount and acceptable methods of payment. The amount of the fee can change over time. If you can’t afford the fee, you should complete a “Poverty Affidavit” at the clerk’s office.
Schedule a Hearing
The clerk should schedule a hearing date before the judge. Remember, you need the judge to sign off on your request only after he or she is convinced that you will not commit another crime. One advantage of working with an attorney is that we can discuss what facts to highlight that show you have been rehabilitated.
Need Assistance? Speak with an Ohio Expungement Attorney
Expungement is not a slam dunk, and many people are denied. Contact a lawyer at Groth & Associates today to discuss your case. Our consultations are free.