There are many people in Ohio who have criminal convictions and are in need of a second chance. Unfortunately, second chances don’t come easily when one’s criminal conviction shows up on every rental background check, employment application, and other situations necessary to begin the process of starting over.
Recently, Ohio changed its record sealing laws. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Record Sealing?
Sealing a criminal record is a legal process that allows a person to have any and all public references to a prior criminal record cleared and their court file sealed. Record sealing allows one to limit who can view previous criminal convictions or charges. In most cases, a sealed record will not show up on a background check and one can treat the conviction as if it never happened. On an application, an individual may honestly reply that a sealed criminal offense does not exist (with certain exceptions).
How Can I Qualify?
To qualify, a person cannot have any of the following: more than 5 felony convictions, any felonies higher than the 4th degree, violent offenses, or felony sex convictions. The number of misdemeanor convictions does not affect eligibility.
What Offenses Cannot be Sealed?
Some offenses may not be sealed. These include 1st or 2nd-degree felonies, felonies including a mandatory prison term, and certain traffic offenses. OVI violations, operating a vehicle while impaired, cannot be sealed.
Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for record sealing, an individual cannot have any pending criminal proceedings, and a prescribed amount of time must have passed since the offender has satisfied all sentencing requirements (community control, fines, costs, restitution).
There is a certain amount of time one must wait before being able to seal certain criminal convictions. They are as follows:
Misdemeanors: 1 year
One Felony: 3 years
Two Felonies: 4 years
Three to Five Felonies: 5 years
If found not guilty or the charge is dismissed, there is no wait time.
An alternative solution to sealing a criminal record may be to file a petition for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE). This provides an individual with the presumption that the conviction is not a bar to licensure, employment, or certification. However, a CQE neither hides nor destroys the underlying record, and this certificate may be revoked.