We write many articles about Expungement in Ohio, and we have already addressed the change that made true expungement possible in many cases. Before 2023, almost no adult cases could be truly expunged. Many could be sealed – that is, hidden from the public record. The process of sealing a criminal record was (and is) often referred to as “expungement” but technically, expungement means the record is destroyed and even court officials and law enforcement no longer have access to the original record (with narrow exception). While juvenile records were often fully expunged, the practice was not possible in adult court until this year.
Practice Use of the New Law
Ever since Ohio expungement laws were updated in 2023, adult criminal records can legally be fully expunged. The current Oho Revised Code (ORC) details time tables for sealing and expunging criminal records (and we detail those time tables here). But this new change to the Ohio Revised Code left our attorneys with some practical questions. So the letter of the law allows people in Ohio to have certain criminal records expunged; but how can Ohioans invoke this right? Is it the same process previously used for sealing a record? Is it enough to change the word “seal” to “expunge” and resubmit the sealing application after the time specified in the ORC? Our attorneys almost immediately went to work finding out the answers to these questions, and they found that the answers vary from court to court. Sometimes we had to scratch out the word “sealing” and write “expungement,” sometimes we had to find new forms to expunge a record in a specific court, sometimes we had to work with courts that had not yet put any policies in place to accommodate the new law. But the good news is – IT WORKS!
While a judge can still deny an application for sealing or expungement, court policies must be in compliance with the ORC when it comes to the application process. Over the past few years, more records have become eligible for sealing as well as expungement, and the courts have put into practice application processes to stay current with the law. With every change, our attorneys have gained experience applying for sealing and expungement under the current law.
Even though Ohio has continued to expand the possibility for sealing and expunging criminal records, the criminal records still must meet several requirements, and those requirements differ depending on the nature of the offense, the amount of time since the offense and other factors like that. There are still certain crimes that cannot be fully expunged and some that cannot be sealed at all. We try to break down the rules for sealing or expunging criminal records in other recent articles, but we understand that the rules can be quite confusing. Even if you understand the rules for your situation, it is generally a good idea to hire an attorney to help you through the application process. If you have questions about your situation or want to apply to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, do not hesitate to contact the expert attorneys at Dearie, Fischer & Martinson LLC.