Expungement and Sealing of Records
If you have been charged with a crime, your criminal records are most likely available for anyone to view, including educational institutions, landlords, and potential employers. As a result, any type of criminal record can create substantial obstacles in a person’s life. Often people are simply embarrassed for mistakes they made that resulted in convictions involving drugs or theft. Fortunately, a seasoned criminal defense attorney is able to guide individuals through the expungement process, which in some situations can help either remove a criminal charge or restrict access to who is able to find out about the offense.
Ohio’s Sealing and Expungement Process
Sealing or expunging a record in Ohio allows an individual who has any public record of a criminal offense in the state to have the record cleared and court file sealed. Ohio law allows the expungement of not just criminal offenses but also acquittals of charges, bail forfeiture, dismissed charges, juvenile charges, and no bill charges.
To qualify for expungement, a person must be classified as an “Eligible Offender” under Ohio Title 2953.31. In accordance with Ohio Law, an “Eligible Offender” includes anyone who has one felony conviction, one misdemeanor conviction, one felony conviction, and one misdemeanor conviction, even if these charges are not related to the same offense, or two misdemeanor convictions, even if they are not related to the same case. There are, however, several exceptions that apply to this eligibility criteria. One exception is if a person has been convicted of two or more offenses based on the same circumstance, which are considered “one conviction.” Another exception is that some criminal records do not count as “convictions,” including most traffic charges and other misdemeanors. Dismissed charges also do not count as a conviction.
After filing a motion with the sentencing court, the court will research the applicant’s background to determine if the applicant’s offense or record is allowed to be sealed. If there are any defects or problems with a person’s record, prosecution might file an objection. If an objection is raised, legal counsel can file additional information in support of expunging a person’s record.
A hearing will then be held regarding the sealing of the record, during which time a judge has discretion to determine whether to deny or grant the application for expungement. If the motion to expunge the record is granted, the judge will sign an order of expungement and send this document to all government agencies that maintain public records of the case.
The Benefits of Having a Record Sealed or Expunged
A large number of companies, educational institutions, and organizations now perform background checks. As a result, sealing a record can help you apply for a job, divorce your spouse, obtain a professional license, seek citizenship, and even rent an apartment. Not to mention that having a criminal record sealed often makes it so that a person can provide honest answer to questions that previously made him or her uncomfortable.
Discover How a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney can Help Your Case
You should expect the expungement process could take several months. The expungement process is particularly complicated and any errors can create significant delays or obstacles in the process, which is why you will almost certainly require the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Contact Kruger & Hodges today for assistance.