Clearing Your Path to a Fresh Start: Ohio’s Sealing Records | Expungement Process
As a former Assistant Hamilton County Magistrate in the Appellate Division, Roger Bouchard has extensive experience reviewing felony expungement applications (sealing records) in the County. This firsthand knowledge equips him with a comprehensive understanding of the procedural regulations and eligibility requirements for expungement. Mr. Bouchard now dedicates his expertise to helping individuals with past mistakes expunge criminal convictions from their records, offering them a chance at a fresh start.
Having a criminal conviction on your record can be a significant obstacle to securing employment, pursuing higher education, and rebuilding your life. However, the law in Ohio offers hope through a statutory privilege known as expungement or, sealing records. Under specific circumstances, qualifying individuals can apply to the Court to have certain convictions permanently removed and sealed from their criminal record.
If you have a criminal conviction on your record and wish to explore the possibility of expungement, do not hesitate to call The Law Offices of Roger Bouchard at (513) 324-8865. Mr. Bouchard can assess your case, explain your legal options, and guide you through the expungement process to pave the way for a brighter future.
The Purpose of Expungement – Sealing Records
Throughout its history, Ohio has recognized the importance of providing individuals with a second chance through the expungement process. Over the years, Ohio’s expungement laws have evolved to strike a balance between public safety and the rehabilitation of individuals with past criminal records. The current laws outline specific eligibility criteria, waiting periods, and restricted access to sealed records. Expungement in Ohio has become a crucial legal avenue for individuals seeking to rebuild their lives, improve their employment prospects, secure housing opportunities, and pursue higher education without the burden of past mistakes.
The primary objective of expungement is to provide individuals with a one-time opportunity to clear charges from their criminal record under certain conditions. By expunging a conviction, the record is sealed from public view, making it invisible to potential employers and educational institutions. This helps individuals move forward without the stigma of their past mistakes hindering their opportunities for a better future.
The Expungement Process
The expungement process starts with filing a written application with the Court, specifically requesting the expungement and sealing of a particular conviction. In Hamilton County, the fee is around fifty-dollars per expungement application for a conviction. However, no application fee is required if the defendant was found not guilty, the charges were dismissed, or the grand jury ignored the case.
Once the Court receives and processes the expungement application, it is forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office for review and response. The Prosecutor’s Office evaluates the application based on specific criteria to determine whether the expungement request can proceed.
Criteria for Eligibility of Sealing Records
When reviewing an expungement application, the Prosecutor’s Office assesses four key criteria that must be satisfied:
- Final Discharge: The applicant must have received a final discharge on the conviction. The waiting period for expungement starts after the final discharge of the case, which varies based on probation status.
- Statutory Waiting Period: An individual is eligible to seek expungement one year after the final discharge of a qualifying misdemeanor charge and three years after the final discharge of a qualifying felony charge. Minor misdemeanors may have no waiting period.
- First Offender Status: The applicant must qualify as a “first offender,” having no other criminal convictions on their record, both prior to and subsequent to the offense sought to be expunged, except for minor misdemeanor traffic violations and offenses.
- Eligible Conviction: Certain specific offenses, such as OVI/DUI/DWI Drunk Driving offenses, sex crimes, and some crimes of violence, cannot be expunged.
Following the State’s response to the expungement application, a hearing is conducted on the record before a judge to determine whether the conviction should be expunged and sealed from the individual’s record. If the assistant prosecuting attorney does not oppose the application, the Court typically orders the criminal conviction to be expunged and sealed.
Life After Expungement
Once a criminal conviction is successfully expunged and sealed, it is no longer visible on the Court’s website, and the applicant is not required to disclose the previous conviction on future job applications or to employers. Access to an expunged criminal record is limited to specific individuals, including law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, and parole and probation officers, for specific and limited purposes.
What is expungement, and how does it work in Ohio?
Expungement, also known as sealing records in Ohio, is a legal process that allows qualifying individuals to have certain criminal convictions removed and sealed from their record. Once sealed, the conviction is no longer visible to the general public, including potential employers and educational institutions.
Who is eligible for expungement in Ohio?
Eligibility for expungement depends on several factors, including the type of conviction, waiting periods, and whether the individual qualifies as a “first offender” with no other criminal convictions on their record.
How long do I have to wait before applying for expungement?
The waiting period for expungement in Ohio varies based on the type of conviction. Generally, individuals must wait one year after a qualifying misdemeanor conviction and three years after a qualifying felony conviction before applying for expungement.
Are there any offenses that cannot be expunged or sealed?
What is the process for applying for expungement?
Embarking on the expungement process requires initiating a formal procedure by submitting a written application to the Court. This application explicitly requests the Court to seal a particular criminal conviction from the individual’s record. Following the submission, the Prosecutor’s Office conducts a comprehensive review of the application, considering various factors related to the conviction and the individual’s circumstances. After this evaluation, a hearing is scheduled before a judge to determine the fate of the expungement request. During the hearing, the judge carefully assesses the merits of the case and considers whether the individual meets the eligibility criteria for expungement. Based on this assessment, the judge makes a decision regarding the expungement of the conviction, potentially granting the individual a chance for a clean slate.
Can I apply for expungement on my own, or do I need an attorney’s help?
While it is possible to apply for expungement without an attorney, having a knowledgeable attorney can significantly improve your chances of success. An attorney can navigate the complex legal requirements, gather necessary evidence, and present a strong defense on your behalf.
What are the benefits of expungement in Ohio?
Expungement can provide individuals with a fresh start by removing the stigma associated with past criminal convictions. With a sealed record, you may have better prospects for employment, housing, and education.
Who can access my sealed criminal record after expungement?
In Ohio, access to sealed criminal records is restricted to specific individuals, such as law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, and parole and probation officers, for limited purposes.
Does expungement clear my record completely?
Expungement in Ohio removes the conviction from public view, but some governmental agencies and law enforcement may still have access to certain expunged records for specific purposes.
Can I expunge more than one conviction from my record?
The eligibility for multiple expungements depends on the specific circumstances of each conviction. While some individuals may be eligible for multiple expungements, it is essential to consult with an attorney to understand your options.
Why Choose Roger Bouchard Law for Sealing Records: Expungement
At The Law Offices of Roger Bouchard, we are committed to helping individuals in Ohio with past mistakes navigate the expungement process effectively. As a former Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor in the Appellate Division, Roger Bouchard possesses in-depth knowledge of the expungement procedural regulations and eligibility requirements. With this valuable experience, Mr. Bouchard dedicates himself to assisting good people who have made mistakes in their lives expunge criminal convictions from their record.
If you have a criminal conviction on your record and wish to explore the possibility of expungement (sealing records), do not hesitate to contact or call The Law Offices of Roger Bouchard at (513) 324-8865. Mr. Bouchard can assess your case, explain your legal options, and provide skilled representation throughout the expungement process.