Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records in Ohio

Depending on your circumstances, sealing juvenile court records can be an automatic process in Ohio. Whether you are trying to have your own juvenile record sealed, or researching for someone else, you may find that you don’t have to do anything more. Ohio law requires that juvenile courts immediately seal juveniles’ records in any of the following circumstances:
  1. If a delinquent or unruly act was alleged (and that was the basis for your arrest), but no complaint was ever filed against you and you were never brought before a court for committing the act, then the public agency that arrested you must turn over all original records to the court. The court then seals the records immediately.
  2. If you were charged with knowingly purchasing alcohol under 21 or being noticeably under the influence while under 21, but successfully completed a diversion program, then your record must be sealed.
  3. If a delinquent child complaint, unruly child complaint, or juvenile traffic offender complaint was filed against you, but the court dismissed after a trial on the merits of the case (in other words, you were not found to be delinquent, unruly, or a juvenile traffic offender), then your record must be sealed.
  4. If you were adjudicated an unruly child, but have since turned 18 and are no longer under the court’s jurisdiction for any reason related to delinquent child status, then your record must be sealed.

Juvenile Record Sealing at the Discretion of the Juvenile Court

The above are situations where it is mandatory that the juvenile court seal the records. If none of those apply to your situation, then it is up to the discretion of the juvenile court whether or not to seal your juvenile records.

The juvenile court will also consider any motion or application made at least two years after:

  1. The termination of any order made by the juvenile court relating to your adjudication,
    or
  2. Your unconditional discharge from the department of youth services (regarding the disposition/order made in your adjudication).

Application Requirements and Procedure

Note that in all cases where the juvenile court has the discretion to seal records, all of the following apply:

  1. The court may require you to submit any and all relevant documentation to support your application to the court to seal the records.
  2. The court may initiate an investigation to determine the degree and extent of your rehabilitation since your last interaction with the juvenile court system.
  3. The court will promptly notify the prosecuting attorney of any proceedings to seal your records, and
    • The prosecuting attorney has the right to file a response within 30 days of receiving notice of the proceedings to seal records.
    • If the prosecutor does not file a response, the court may order the records sealed without any further hearing on the issue.
    • If the prosecutor files a response, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days. The court can also decide on its own to schedule a hearing. Notice will be provided to you of the date, time, and location.
  4. If schedule, the hearing will be where the court determines “satisfactory rehabilitation.” Aside from the prosecutor’s testimony, the court will consider your age, the nature of the case, the cessation or continuation of delinquent behavior, your education and employment history, and any other circumstances that relate to your rehabilitation.

Where sealing was not required but you won the adjudication, the juvenile court will provide you written notice that officially gives you permission to apply to the court for an order to seal the record.

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

Overview of Ohio Criminal Record Expungements

Eligibility for Expunging and Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Ohio

Process for Expunging or Sealing Criminal Adult 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?