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Expunging a Domestic Violence Conviction in Ohio: Update

We have many articles on Expungement Law in Ohio.  We have seen that expunging and sealing of criminal records is a legal action that interests many of our clients.  Not only is expungement an interesting topic because of the positive effect it can have on the lives of Ohioans with a criminal record, but Ohio has also been updating the laws on expungement at a state level.  While the records of some crimes clearly cannot be sealed, the rules about sealing some criminal records can be a little bit confusing.  One type of criminal record that can be slightly more complicated is a record of Domestic Violence(DV).  For this reason, our blog already as an article called Can a Domestic Violence Record Be Expunged in Ohio?  While that article is still a good source of information, we want to revisit the topic of expunging a record of Domestic Violence in Ohio in light of the changes that were made to the rules for expungement in Ohio about a year ago.

Can a Domestic Violence Record Ever Be Sealed in Ohio?

Some Domestic Violence convictions can be sealed in Ohio and some cannot.  As we mention in other articles about expungement, the term “expungement” is often used to mean sealing even though they are not technically the same.  Both sealing and expungement deny public access to a criminal record and allow the offender, to an extent, to go on with life as if the criminal record did not exist.  However, when a record is expunged, it is completely destroyed electronically and physically.  When a record is sealed, it continues to exist, but can only be accessed from the Court by certain people (you can read more about the difference between sealing and expungement in our everything you need to know article).  True expungement is very rare in adult court, but certain criminal records, including many Domestic Violent convictions can be sealed in Ohio.

So when can you have a Domestic Violence conviction sealed and when is it impossible? We cover this question in “Can a Domestic Violence Record Be Expunged in Ohio?” and we will revisit it in the following sections.

When Can a Domestic Violence Record be Expunged in Ohio?

Now that we have once again clarified the fact that expungement and sealing are used interchangeably (although sealing is more accurate) we can talk about what types of Domestic Violence records can be sealed.  Just like with any criminal record, you must be an eligible offender in order to get a record of Domestic Violence expunged.  Among other things, this means you must wait the appropriate amount of time after your conviction. Not all crimes or even all misdemeanors are expungeable, but for an expungeable misdemeanor, you normally have to wait a year to have the record expunged.  When it comes to Domestic Violence, you can only have the record expunged if your conviction was a misdemeanor of the second degree or something less serious.  We talk about Domestic Violence records that cannot be expunged in the next section.

When Can a Domestic Violence Record Not be Sealed

As we mentioned above, you typically cannot have a Domestic Violence record expunged if the conviction is anything more serious than a second degree misdemeanor.  That means that a first degree misdemeanor (M1) Domestic Violence record cannot be expunged and neither can any felony Domestic Violence conviction.  This is because of the way Ohio law treats offenses of violence such as DV.  While other types of M1 and even some felony records can be expunged after the proper waiting periods, the rules are different for Domestic Violence and other offenses of violence.  Most offenses of violence cannot be expunged if they are first degree misdemeanors or felonies.  Some offenses of violence cannot be expunged at all.  While DV convictions can be expunged when they are second degree misdemeanors or less serious,  it cannot be expunged if it is a first degree misdemeanor or felony, according to ORC 2901.01(9)(a).

Exceptions to the Rule

It is always good to mention exceptions to the rule because we do not want our readers to think anything is guaranteed based on the parts of the law we highlight in our articles.  There are many reasons someone may not be an eligible offender even if their criminal record would otherwise be expungeable.  On the other hand, sometimes a situation may seem hopeless but for some reason things work out for the applicant in an expungement case.  There are too many possible factors to address them all in this article, but in most situations DV can be expunged after a year in Ohio after if it is a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree or a lesser conviction.


While Expunging a criminal record in Ohio has been getting easier in recent years, Domestic Violence is taken very seriously in Ohio Courts and other Courts throughout the country.  Because there are varying degrees of DV convictions, the rules for expunging a record of Domestic Violence depend on the factors in your case.  Some of the most significant factors are discussed above, but as we explained in the previous section, we cannot cover every possible scenario.  If you have questions about trying to expunge a record of Domestic Violence or need any other type of legal help, you can always contact the expert attorneys at Dearie, Fischer, and Martinson.