Expungement is the process by which a record of conviction is sealed. An individual seeking expungement of a conviction must be a first-time offender and the crime must be one for which expungement is permitted under Ohio law. Misdemeanor crimes that may notbe expunged include all “offenses of violence” when the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree; all first degree misdemeanors where the victim of the offense was under 18 years of age; all driver license-related offenses; all traffic offenses; and all motor vehicle crimes.
For those misdemeanor crimes that may be expunged, the first-time offender may apply at the expiration of one year after the offender’s final discharge. Final discharge usually means that all aspects of the case have been completed, such as payment of fines and costs and completion of probation.
In addition to expungement of a record of conviction, sealing of the record may also be obtained when a charge against an individual has been dismissed, when a person is found not guilty at the end of a trial, and for non-traffic misdemeanor bail forfeitures. Application for sealing of the record of a dismissal or not guilty verdict may be made immediately. A person must wait one year to apply for sealing the record of a non-traffic misdemeanor bail forfeiture.
After an application for expungement is filed with the court, the matter is set for hearing and the applicant and the prosecutor for the case are notified of the hearing date. The prosecutor has the option of filing an objection to the expungement of the record prior to the hearing. After the hearing, the court will consider the applicable factors and weigh the interest of the applicant in having the record sealed against the legitimate needs, if any, of the government to maintain that record.
If the court grants the application for expungement, the court shall order all official records pertaining to the case sealed and all index references to the case deleted.
Blank applications for expungement are available at the clerk’s office.