Mistakes made years ago can come back to haunt you when trying to begin a career or rent a decent apartment. One conviction can cause you to be turned down by a potential employer or potential residence. If you have suffered the collateral consequences of a criminal record due to an old mistake, contact a Columbus expungement lawyer from Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free consultation. Our Columbus criminal defense law firm may be able to help you clear your record and achieve your goals without constant repercussions from old mistakes.
Learn and better understand the process in Ohio for getting your criminal records sealed.
What is Expungement?
Under Ohio law, expungement is a process by which a judge clears the public record of your previous criminal conviction and seals the court files regarding that conviction. This is often deemed having your record sealed. It is not an automatic process. If you want to learn how to clear your criminal record, you will have to speak with an attorney, determine if you are eligible, and begin the process in your local Ohio court system.
If you are able to obtain an expungement, then your history will look as if that conviction never happened. It will not come up on background checks.
The Benefits of Expungement
There are a number of advantages to having a criminal conviction expunged. Convictions, particularly for felonies, can hold you back from obtaining a professional license or being hired for a good job. You may have found you have to work at whatever job will hire you, even if it is below your skill level or does not pay enough to support yourself and your family.
In addition to helping your career, clearing your criminal record can help you go to school and obtain private and federal loans. If you have been wanting to go to college or begin an apprenticeship but were worried about your record, an expungement will give you a clean slate to move forward with your goals.
You may also have experienced difficulties in renting safe and affordable places to live. With a clean record, a potential landlord is less likely to deny your rental application.
Qualifying for Expungement
Expungement in Ohio is only allowed in certain cases. Before you move forward with the process, you should speak with a Columbus expungement lawyer to determine if you are eligible.
To be eligible for expungement, you must be able to agree with these six statements:
- Your conviction is not one that is specifically excluded
- You were not subject to a mandatory prison term upon conviction
- You have only prior one conviction OR your other convictions are for minor misdemeanors OR you were convicted of two or more crimes based on the same incident
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor AND it has been more than one year since you completed your sentence OR you were convicted of a felony and it has been more than three years since you completed your sentence
- You are not part of any current criminal or traffic proceedings
- You have not had a previous conviction expunged
You may also qualify to have your records sealed if you were charged with a crime but you were found innocent or the case was dismissed. However, if you were simply arrested and not charged with a crime, you cannot have this arrest record expunged.
Convictions That Disqualify You From Expungement
Not all convictions can be expunged. Here are the types of convictions that are specifically excluded under Ohio law:
- First-degree felonies
- Second-degree felonies
- First-degree misdemeanor or felony offenses in which the victim was younger than 18 years old
- First-degree misdemeanor or felony violent crimes, with a few exceptions
- Sexual offenses
A Columbus expungement lawyer can review your previous conviction and inform you of whether it disqualifies you from expungement or could possibly be sealed.
The Process of Obtaining an Expungement
Once you and your attorney determine you meet the basic qualifications for expungement, you must begin the legal process. This requires obtaining the order of the conviction you want to have sealed. Your lawyer can contact the county clerk where you were convicted to get these records. Next, your Columbus expungement lawyer will file the initial paperwork to begin the proceeding, this is known as the application for sealing a criminal record pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code §2953.32.
Once the paperwork is filed along with the court fee, your hearing date will be set. Depending on the circumstances, your Columbus expungement lawyer may attend this hearing alone or advise you to come along. At the hearing, your attorney will prepare a statement regarding your rehabilitation and need for an expungement.
The Judge Has Discretion
Obtaining an expungement heavily depends on showing the judge that you have been rehabilitated, are highly unlikely to commit another crime, and are a productive member of the community. It is in the judge’s hands whether or not you can have your records sealed, even if you meet all of the basic eligibility requirements. This means your attorney may have you take additional steps to prove your record should be altered to the judge. For example, if you were addicted to drugs or alcohol at the time of your conviction, you may want to provide evidence of your sobriety. If you had a psychological issue, you may want to show the judge that you have participated in counseling.
Contact a Columbus Expungement Lawyer For Help
You may think you can handle the legal process of seeking an expungement on your own. However, this process all comes down to impressing a judge. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have years of experience helping individuals seal their records. We understand how to build and articulate a persuasive argument to the judge. We can help you take steps in your life prior to filing your application that will support your claim, such as remaining at a job for a significant period of time, undergoing drug testing to prove you are clean, or seeing a therapist.
Let a Columbus Expungement Lawyer with LHA Help You Today!
If you have any questions about an expungement or if you need an experienced Columubus criminal defense lawyer to review your options, please contact Luftman, Heck and Associates to schedule a free consultation by calling (614) 500-3836 or emailing us via [email protected].