By: R. Clayton Lopez, Attorney at Law
Unfortunately, people make mistakes and decisions they normally would not make. In some instances, those mistakes or decisions lead to criminal charges. In recent years the State of Ohio has been opening the door for more individuals to have their records sealed. At the time of a plea, some people do not understand the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Based on the conviction, an individual may not be able to get a job, housing, professional licenses or gain admission to a school of their choosing.
In 2018 the Ohio legislature made significant changes to law regarding sealing convictions. For example,
– Multiple convictions can be sealed;
– Multiple fourth and fifth degree felonies can be sealed;
– A person may be eligible to have two felonies sealed after four years;
– A person may be eligible to have three to five felonies sealed after five years; and
– There is no limit on misdemeanor convictions after waiting a period of one year.
On April 12, 2021, the law concerning the Sealing of Convictions in Ohio is changing again. This change will allow persons convicted of lower level felonies the opportunity to get a fresh start earlier. Currently, a person convicted of a fourth or fifth degree felony must wait a period of 3 years after final discharge of the case in order to apply to have the record sealed. Under the new law, felonies of the fourth and fifth degree will be eligible to be sealed one (1) year after final discharge of the case. The term “final discharge” is not defined in the Ohio Revised Code but has been construed through caselaw to have occurred when “an offender has served all components of the sentence, including the satisfaction of restitution.” State v. J.L., 10th Dist. No. 19AP-91, 2020-Ohio-3466, ¶ 13. The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that “final discharge cannot occur until restitution is fully paid. Only then does the * * * waiting period in R.C. 2953.32(A)(1) commence to run, and only after the expiration of that period may [the applicant seek] to have her record sealed.” Aguirre at ¶ 20. See State v. C.L.W., 10th Dist. No. 18AP-658, 2019-Ohio-1965, ¶ 10. State v. [D.D.F.], 2020-Ohio-4663, 20AP-10.
The Ohio legislature has been proactive in allowing those with mistakes in their past to make a fresh start. The attorneys at Saia & Piatt invite you to contact the firm to for a free consultation and evaluation to determine your eligibility to seal your records. We will work with each client to ensure the best case is prepared and presented to the Court to help achieve the new beginning so many individuals deserve.