After conviction, many people seek to have their records sealed or expunged. Sealing and Expunging are processes that remove your record from public view.
For help or with questions getting started on sealing or expunging your Ohio juvenile record call our greater Cincinnati office at (513) 932-5529 or our Greater Dayton office at (937) 306-6402.
This article deals with the sealing and expunging of Juvenile records in Ohio.
To read more about sealing and expunging adult criminal records, read our article "New Expungement Law in Ohio: What You Should Know".
Unlike adults, juveniles are technically not prosecuted criminally and convicted, but are found to be not guilty, "delinquent," "unruly," or a "juvenile traffic offender." Although these "dispositions" are not technically crimes, they will remain on a person's record, and may cause a problem when applying for new jobs or new schools.
For more information about how juveniles are treated in the U.S. Court system, read our article, "Is Your Child in Trouble with the Law? Read This First".
Are All Juvenile Records Sealed or Expunged Automatically At Age 18?
No, not all juvenile records are sealed or expunged automatically. Some people mistakenly believe that a juvenile record is automatically expunged when the juvenile turns 18. Some records are expunged at age 18, but there are only a limited number of circumstances where this occurs.
What is the Difference Between Sealing and Expunging a Juvenile Record?
- Sealing a record: Sealing a record means that a record still exists, but is hidden from public view. A sealed record can still be seen in limited circumstances by the Courts, law enforcement, or the defendant.
- Expunging a record: Expunging a record means to completely destroy all physical and electronic versions of the record. The record then no longer exists, and for all intents and purposes, it never existed. Once your record is expunged from Juvenile Court records, you can truthfully say that no record exists.
Am I Eligible to Have My Juvenile Record Sealed or Expunged?
There are some requirements for getting a juvenile record sealed.
All juvenile records are eligible to be sealed except murder and rape.
If the juvenile offender is under 18 years of age, he/she must wait 6 months following the conclusion of the case before applying for sealing. Youth offenders over the age of 18 are eligible to apply at any time following the conclusion of the case.
All pending actions in the juvenile Court must be concluded prior to applying for a sealing of a juvenile record.
Records that have been sealed are eligible for expungement.
Who Can View My Sealed Juvenile Record?
The Court can see your sealed juvenile record.
If the record sealed involved a charge that would have been considered a violent felony if the juvenile had been an adult, then a prosecutor or law enforcement will still have access to the record.
The defendant can ask permission of the Court to view the sealed record at any time.
For sex offenses, the attorney general's office can view a sealed record for purposes of preparing and maintaining the sex offender registry.
If the youth offender was expelled from school AND the sealed record was the reason for the expulsion, then the school board of the school district where the offense occurred may have access to the sealed record.
Who can View My Expunged Juvenile Record?
No one can see a juvenile record that has been expunged. An expunged juvenile record is destroyed and removed from the Court's records in all forms, physical or electronic. Once a record is expunged, the juvenile can truthfully say that s/he does not have a juvenile record.
General Rule for Sealing and Expunging Juvenile Records
Generally speaking, your record must first be sealed before it can be expunged. Records are not usually sealed unless the defendant makes an application for sealing first (with some exceptions, see below). Records are not always automatically sealed or expunged on the defendant's 18th birthday (with some exceptions, see below).
Are Any Juvenile Records Automatically Sealed?
Yes, under limited circumstances. If any of the following applies to your juvenile record, then the record will be automatically sealed --- you do not need to apply to have these records sealed.
- If you were arrested as a juvenile, but a complaint was never filed with the Court;
- If you were charged as a juvenile with underage alcohol consumption, but successfully completed a diversion program;
- If a complaint against you as a juvenile was dismissed by the judge either after a trial or some other pretrial consideration;
- If you were adjudicated an "unruly child" and have no pending delinquency charges, your record will be sealed at age 18.
Are Any Juvenile Records Automatically Expunged?
Yes. The law states that juvenile records that were previously sealed must be expunged 5 years after the sealing. As with the sealing process itself, a juvenile (or adult who was found to have committed an offense as a juvenile) may apply to have the record expunged early. Whether waiting for the automatic expungement or applying for early expungement, the record must first be sealed.
Are There Some Juvenile Offenses that Cannot be Sealed or Expunged?
Yes. A juvenile conviction of murder or rape cannot be sealed or expunged.
How Do I Apply to Have My Juvenile Record Sealed?
To have our record sealed, you must file an application with the Clerk of Courts in the Court where the juvenile offense occurred. There is no filing or application fee for the sealing of a record. After any required waiting period, you should be prepared to provide the Court with as much supporting documentation as possible to show that your record should be sealed. Showing good school performance, responsibility with a job, and other volunteer activities can go a long way to sway the Court to grant the sealing of our record. Showing an otherwise clean juvenile record is also helpful.
How Do I Apply to Have My Juvenile Record Expunged?
To apply to have a juvenile record expunged, you would go through the same process as having the record sealed. But be sure your record has been sealed first.
If you would like us to look over your case and help you with getting your juvenile record sealed or expunged, please give us a call. In the greater Cincinnati area, call our Lebanon office at (513) 932-5529. In the greater Dayton area, call (937) 306-6402.
The attorneys of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews, LLC know that many good people make mistakes and find themselves in juvenile court, and that many of these people are deserving of a second chance. Contact us if you believe you or your child has a juvenile offense record that ought to be sealed or expunged. Our attorneys have decades of experience in the local juvenile courts, and will work with you to build your strongest case for a clean juvenile record.