On September 27, 2017, the Supreme Court settled a conflict between the Eighth District Court of Appeals and the Fifth District Court Appeals regarding when an individual can apply to have dismissed criminal charges expunged from their record.

In State v. Dye, 2017-Ohio-7823, the question the Court was asked to answer is whether or not an individual whose charges have been dismissed without prejudice must wait for the relevant statute of limitations to expire before filing to have the case sealed. This issue often arises when an individual is charged with a felony that is later “dismissed for future indictment” or dismissed at the motion of State. This technically means that, the State could re-file the charges at a later time. The State argued in Dye that an individual could not file to have the dismissal sealed until the statute of limitations ran on the initial charges. Following this reasoning, in cases of murder, kidnapping, sex crimes, arson and robbery, an individual would have to wait 20 years before he could file to have his record sealed, even though the charges were dismissed. The wait would be 25 years in cases of rape and sexual battery.

Thankfully for those defendants whose charges have been dismissed by the State, the Court found that, “a trial court may seal the records in a case dismissed without prejudice before the statute of limitations has expired.” The only exception to this rule is the sealing of records consisting of DNA specimens and DNA records and profiles, which may not be sealed until the statute of limitations has run.

If you are interested in talking to an attorney about having any prior criminal convictions or dismissals sealed, give us a call or visit our criminal law website at www.splaws.com/Criminal-Defense/. You may only be a court hearing away from having your past cleared up and your future unencumbered by previous legal problems.