Record Sealing/Expungement Attorney in Batavia, Ohio
Being arrested or convicted of a crime can have a significant impact on an individual's life, even after fulfilling their legal obligations. This can include difficulty obtaining employment, housing, child custody, or loans. Fortunately, there are legal options available to individuals who would like to have their records sealed or expunged.
Douglas A. Ball is a skilled criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the entire process of sealing your criminal record from start to finish. Attorney Douglas A. Ball can evaluate your eligibility for record sealing and advise you on the waiting periods and specific criteria for sealing different types of offenses. With an office in Batavia, Ohio, Mr. Ball serves Warren, Brown, Clermont, Batavia, and Hamilton Counties.
Record Sealing vs. Expungement
Record sealing is the process of having criminal records hidden from public view. Essentially, the record is still available for legal proceedings but cannot be accessed by the general public or potential employers. Sealed records are often available to law enforcement or specific government agencies, but otherwise, it is as if the record never existed. In summary, record sealing keeps the record private, but it is not erased.
Expungement is the process of having a criminal record erased or destroyed. Expunged records cannot be accessed by anyone, including law enforcement. With an expungement, the individual can legally deny that the crime ever happened.
Can You Get an Expungement in Ohio?
Unlike many other states, Ohio does not allow adults to get an expungement. Instead, the state primarily uses the record-sealing system. What it means is that while your convictions cannot be completely erased from your record (that’s what happens when you get an expungement), you can get your record sealed. When your record is sealed, you no longer have to disclose your arrest records, charges, or convictions when applying for most jobs.
However, Ohio law does allow convicted juveniles to get their records expunged. Under state law, juvenile records can be both expunged and sealed, though certain offenses are not eligible for expungement (e.g. rape, murder, and aggravated murder).
Who Can Request to Have Their Records Sealed?
There are two sets of criteria that must be met in order to be eligible to request to have your records sealed in Ohio. These two sets are broken down into Criteria A and Criteria B requirements. You must meet the requirements of either Criteria A or Criteria B to be eligible for sealing your record.
Criteria A requirements include:
You have five or fewer fourth- or fifth-degree felony convictions.
You have any number of misdemeanors.
You have no felony convictions of the first, second, or third degree.
Your convictions do not include any felony sex offenses.
Your convictions do not include any violent crimes (misdemeanor or felony).
If you meet the above-mentioned criteria, you may be eligible to have all of your convictions sealed. However, if you do not meet any of the requirements for Criteria A, you may be eligible to seal your records under Criteria B requirements. You satisfy Criteria B if you have no more than:
one felony and one misdemeanor conviction; or
two misdemeanor convictions.
However, even if you meet the above-mentioned requirements to have your records sealed, Ohio law does not allow individuals to seal specific types of convictions, including:
most sex crimes
most crimes involving children
OVI/DUI offenses and other traffic offenses
serious violent crimes
felonies of the first or second degree
In some cases, the prosecutor may object to the person’s request to seal records. Courts have the discretion to determine whether or not to allow the petitioner to have their record sealed.
When Can You File to Have Your Records Sealed?
Ohio law requires you to wait a certain amount of time after completing your sentence before your records can be sealed.
For misdemeanors: at least one year must pass before you can file to have your records sealed.
For felonies: the waiting time is between three to five years depending on the number of felony convictions.
If you were arrested and charged (no indictment): the waiting time is at least two years from the date the jury failed to issue the indictment and the report of no bill was returned.
If you were found not guilty, your case was dismissed, or it was nolle (dropped): you can file to have your records sealed at any time.
The waiting period begins when an individual has finished serving their jail/prison sentence, the term of parole/probation, and has paid all applicable fines.
How to Seal Your Records in Ohio
The first step in sealing your records in Ohio requires you to have your complete criminal record that includes your arrests, dismissals, convictions, and other related records. You need to gather all the documents related to your records before proceeding with a petition to seal your record. This step alone could take some time and effort because you will have to contact the clerk of the court’s office and get your records in each court where you have a criminal record.
After you have gathered the necessary documents, you can prepare a petition to seal your records and submit it to the particular court with your records. Sealing your record may also require you to pay a filing fee.
Will a Sealed Record Ever Be Accessible Again?
In some cases, sealed records can be accessed by specific parties or in specific circumstances. For example, when applying for certain types of government jobs, a background check may still be conducted, and these jobs may require full access to a criminal record. Court orders or specific legal proceedings may also require access to sealed records. However, in most cases, sealed records will not become public.
While sealed records are not available to employers for most jobs, these records may still be accessible under specific circumstances. Sealed convictions may still make you ineligible to work with children, developmentally disabled persons, and the elderly. In addition, individuals whose records were sealed may still be disqualified from jobs that have a substantial connection with their offense. Ohio law also requires individuals to disclose all sealed records when enlisting in the military.
Record Sealing/Expungement Attorney in Batavia, Ohio
Record sealing and expungement can provide a fresh start for individuals with criminal records. If you are looking to seal your criminal record, hiring an attorney would be a wise decision. Not only can it make the whole process quick and efficient, but it can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome. Reach out to Douglas A. Ball Attorney at Law to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific situation.