If you have been accused of a crime or convicted of a minor offense in Ohio, you can still suffer unduly harsh repercussions for having a criminal record for years afterwards. That’s why the processes of expungement and record sealing exist. When your record is sealed or expunged, the public can no longer find evidence of your criminal history and you will be permitted to honestly answer no to any questions about your record.
Unfortunately, some people don’t take advantage of this opportunity, as the process can be daunting if you don’t know what to do. In actuality, though, it is a fairly straightforward procedure that will give you benefits for years to come. With the help of a Columbus criminal lawyer, you will need to do the following five steps.
- Ensure you are eligible. Generally, you can qualify if it was your first offense. You can only qualify if the crime was non-violent. Some drug or alcohol-related crimes can also be expunged after treatment. Talk to an attorney about you specific case to see if your exact case qualifies.
- File a motion with the sentencing court where you were convicted. An attorney will be able to draft a simple motion based on the specifics of your case. If you were declared not guilty or your case was dismissed and you are looking to have your record sealed, the motion will need to be filed in the court where the case was resolved.
- Attend a hearing for Sealing of the Record. At this hearing, the judge will weigh the merits of your application for expungement or record sealing. The prosecutor may raise their objections to an issuance of the expungement during or before this hearing. If there are objections, they will be dealt with at the hearing.
- Get a ruling on your application for expungement and sealing of record. The judge has the discretion to grant or deny your application for expungement based on the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing. The judge will ultimately determine a ruling based on each individual case. Usually, the final decision is issued the same day.
- Get a signed Entry or Order of Expungement and Sealing of Record. If the judge approves your application, the court will issue an Entry or Order of Expungement and Sealing of Record. This will be forwarded to all governmental agencies with records of the case, requiring them to seal all documents and information about the record from public view. This immediately restores your rights as if the charges or conviction never occurred.
As you can see, the process is not very long or difficult. Generally, you should be approved, so long as you are not automatically excluded by law and all the motions, filings, and arguments are done correctly. For this reason, it may be in your interest to get the help of an experienced Ohio criminal attorney who will be able to ensure you don’t make any costly mistakes.
If you are considering starting the process to have your own record expunged, don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Get the help of the experienced Columbus criminal lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Call us today at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation on your case.