In Ohio, a criminal record may be sealed under the circumstances described below. If your record is sealed, it cannot be accessed by the general public, including potential employers. Law enforcement agencies and some other government agencies will still be able to view your record, however. In most cases, if your record is sealed, you may say that you were not arrested or convicted of a crime.
If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime
If you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, the related records may qualify for sealing if:
- you were found not guilty of the charges brought against you
- the charges against you were dismissed, or
- a “no bill” was entered against you by a grand jury and at least two years have passed.
(Ohio Revised Code § 2953.52.)
If You Were Convicted of a Crime
If you were a first-time offender, your conviction record may be eligible for sealing. To qualify, you must have successfully completed all the requirements of your sentence and satisfied the necessary waiting period -- one year for misdemeanors or three years for felonies.
Your record cannot be sealed if:
- you were subject to a mandatory prison term for the conviction you want to expunge
- there are currently charges pending against you, or
- you were convicted of another crime before or after the one you are seeking to expunge, other than minor misdemeanors or crimes arising from the same incident.
In addition, records for many offenses -- including most violent crimes, sex crimes, and motor vehicle offenses -- cannot be sealed.
(Ohio Revised Code §§ 2953.32 and 2953.36.)
How to File
For nonconviction records, consult the Criminal Court Clerk in the county where the arrest occurred.
For conviction records, the Ohio Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition offers a comprehensive packet called Instructions for Sealing a Criminal Record (Expungement) to help you determine whether or not your record is eligible for expungement and, if it is, to show you how to complete and file the necessary paperwork.
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up your criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Ohio -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.