Mistakes are part of growing up. Unfortunately, some mistakes haunt us for longer than others. Those of us who made a mistake that resulted in a criminal record can relate. The presence of a criminal record makes it difficult to get employment and housing. It can even make it difficult get scholarships and pursue higher levels of education. This record can hold you back from truly moving on with your life — even after you have served your time and paid for your crime.
Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of a criminal record.
How can I get rid of my criminal record?
There are generally two options: expunge or seal. If sealed, employers and others in the public no longer have access to the record. There are exceptions when an employer can still view this record. Some exceptions include background checks for positions in law enforcement or youth services.
Expungement essentially erases the conviction. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) generally only reviews an expunged record in the event a candidate applies for a position in law enforcement. Otherwise, it is basically like the record was never there at all.
In the past, applicants looking to expunge or seal their records had to establish that they were an “eligible offender” to qualify. The definition included legislative guidance on reviewing and classifying multiple convictions which led to some confusion. Not all courts applied the guidance the same way.
The new law should provide a much clearer pathway.
Do I qualify for expungement or to seal my record?
The new law has a two-step approach. First, the applicant needs to establish that there is not a state law that prohibits sealing or expunging the record. This is potentially an issue for convictions for certain felonies, sexual crimes, and drunk driving related crimes.
The second step involves timing. The applicant must wait a certain period before qualifying to expunge or seal a criminal record. This can vary from a couple of months to years after completion of any sentence or community service, probation or parole, and payment of any related fees.
What should I do if I want to pursue this option?
Those looking to seal or expunge their criminal record are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in this niche area of criminal law can review your situation and provide guidance.