Sometimes mistakes are easy to fix. But there are other times when it takes a formal process to move past something. For example, when you want to expunge a criminal record in Ohio.
Under Ohio law, there is a process to expunge and seal criminal records. Although expungement and sealing are two different things – the former erases a record, and the latter just seals it from public view – the terms are often used interchangeably. The important thing is that expungement or sealing criminal records shields you from negative consequences resulting from background checks.
The experienced Columbus expungement and record sealing attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help you with the process. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 or through our online form to schedule a free consultation.
Clearing Your Criminal Record
After you’ve been convicted and served your punishment, you want to pick up the pieces and move forward. Unfortunately, your criminal record may hurt your chances of doing that. Background checks for employment, housing, licensing, and even education can reveal past trouble with the law.
The good news is that recent Ohio law changes expand opportunities to expunge certain felonies and misdemeanors. You can now also expunge multiple convictions if they are of the fourth or fifth degree.
Minor misdemeanors, traffic offenses, and operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) charges are not eligible under Ohio’s expungement law. Because an OVI conviction will always show up in a background check, it is crucial that you contact our experienced defense lawyers if you are facing charges related to impaired driving.
Here are the steps to expunging your record in Ohio:
- Determine Eligibility – You can petition the court for expungement if:
- You were charged with a crime and never convicted
- You have five or fewer fourth- or fifth-degree felonies that were non-violent, non-sexually oriented, and not involving a minor and have waited a year after completing your sentence
- You have misdemeanors of any amount – other than first degree convictions for domestic violence – and have waited a year after completing your sentence and probation
- You have a combination of one or two misdemeanors and one felony conviction
- You have a juvenile record
- You have waited three years and have up to two third-degree felonies
- You have waited four years and have two felonies
- You have waited five years after completing your sentence and probation and have three to five felonies
- File an Application – After determining that you are eligible for expungement, we will apply with the court where you were convicted. Usually, that means applying with the Court of Common Pleas if felonies are involved and a municipal or county court if misdemeanors are involved. Since the process can differ based on what county you are in, it’s best to leave the filings to us.
- Court Review and Hearing – Once the application is filed, the court reviews it, making sure you met the eligibility requirements and that there are no current legal proceedings against you. When the petition was filed, copies were also sent to the prosecutor. Should the prosecutor object to your request, your Luftman, Heck & Associates expungement attorney will file a response to those. A hearing will then be set where the judge will determine if the application should be granted.
- Ruling on Application – Generally, the judge rules the same day after hearing the arguments and evidence. If the judge agrees to expunge or seal the record, notices of that order will go to government agencies.
Once you receive an expungement, you no longer must disclose the conviction. Understand that when the court seals your record, it still could remain accessible for limited purposes. But private individuals and background checking companies should not have access.
Keep in mind as well that the judge might deny your petition. Often denials result when someone tries to handle it themselves instead of hiring an experienced expungement lawyer. By working with us, you will have the best chance at putting your record behind you.
Let LHA Help You With Expungement
Recent changes in Ohio law expand opportunities to expunge or seal criminal records. This means you could now qualify. Contact the Columbus expungement lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates to see if you are eligible to have your record sealed.