Overview of Ohio Criminal Record Expungements

In Ohio, expunging a criminal record is a straightforward process. Ohio law refers to the term “sealing” rather than “expungement,” but for adult convictions, they mean the same thing in Ohio. An Ohio expungement (or sealing) results in any references to your adult criminal conviction being cleared up and any court files being sealed. The result is as though you had never been convicted of the specific offense at issue.

However, the physical records are not destroyed. Expungement and sealing simply means that when someone searches your criminal records, nothing will show up in their search results. This is a useful tool for anyone who has been arrested or convicted of a crime when they go to apply for jobs or pursue education.

However, the courts and law enforcement personnel will have access to the record – if you get arrested again, your past conviction can be used against you in a subsequent criminal prosecution as a prior conviction for sentencing purposes. Past convictions are also used by law enforcement personnel to show character or credibility in court proceedings, where needed, regardless of expungement. The only exception to the rule about preserving records is the expungement and sealing of juvenile records. Records that are ordered sealed and subsequently expunged from your juvenile criminal record are destroyed, so that not even the court can later reference them.

Though an Ohio expungement will not lead to your adult record being completely destroyed, the remaining records will be kept confidential. It is a crime for any state officer or employee to release your information once it has been sealed. A new Ohio law that has recently come into effect makes it a fourth degree misdemeanor to release this information to anyone inside or outside government entities, for any purpose including employment, licensing, or business or professional purposes. With the exception of the court and law enforcement personnel access described above, all information about your arrest, the complaint, the indictment, trial, hearing, conviction, and/or any probation or other correctional supervision, is completely protected.

You may wish to consult with a qualified Ohio criminal lawyer to help with your criminal record expungement case. For more on this decision, see our article Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge or Seal my Criminal Record in Ohio? Some attorneys may waive their fee for an initial consultation.

For more information on Ohio expungements, see the following articles:

Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Ohio

Process for Expunging or Sealing Criminal Adult Records in Ohio

Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records in Ohio

Process for Expunging or Sealing Juvenile Records in Ohio

Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge or Seal my Criminal Record in Ohio?