The Legal Aid Society of Columbus assists individuals with:
- Certificates of Qualification for Employment
- Sealing of Criminal Records/Expungement
We offer evening or weekend clinics every few months. At these clinics, you can:
- learn whether you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed,
- learn whether you are eligible for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment
- receive help completing record-sealing or CQE applications.
Call our intake department or fill out an online application to register for our next clinic!
Click on the topics below for more information:
The information on this page is NOT legal advice. If you are seeking representation or Legal advice, please contact the LASC Intake Department at 614-241-2001 or complete an online application. An attorney client relationship does not exist between you and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.
Certificates of Qualification for Employment (CQEs) provide relief from mandatory restrictions that prohibit persons with criminal records from obtaining employment or licensure in certain fields. CQEs also provide immunity to employers from negligent hiring lawsuits if they decide to hire someone with a CQE. A CQE is NOT an expungement, but it is an additional or alternative option to overcoming barriers to employment. It gives employers the opportunity to evaluate each individual in terms of their ability to do the job rather than their criminal record. Feel free to print the brochure (link below), and if you are interested, contact our Intake Department to register for our next clinic!
In order to be successful, you must establish that the Granting of the Petition:
- Is required to help you in obtaining employment or an occupational license.
- Is needed in order for you to live a law-abiding life.
- Will not pose an unreasonable threat to public or individual safety.
For Felonies: one year after final discharge* For Misdemeanors: six months after final discharge* ∗”Final discharge” means after you have completed any sentence, including probation or community control and have paid all outstanding fines.
Important! Identify the jobs in which you have been trained or to which you might be interested in applying. Gather ALL of your criminal records. Use: http://CIVICohio.org to pinpoint the laws that are creating barriers. Apply for a CQE online at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) If approved: then you can print it off and file it in the common pleas clerk of court’s office for the county in which you live. Franklin County Residents: the clerk’s office is located at 345 S. High Street, and the fee is $35.00. It cannot be waived. If denied: ODRC will offer directions as to what additional information is needed to satisfy the application process or discuss why you are not eligible. If you want help with your initial application, contact the LASC Intake Department at 614-241-2001 to sign up for our next “Fresh Start” Clinic!
- For registration and other requirements for sex offenders.
- For license suspension, cancellation or revocation which occurred due to 12+ points, vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, DUI or failure to consent to blood, breath or urine test, if relief is available by law to grant limited driving privileges.
- For restrictions on employment as a prosecutor or law enforcement officer.
- For a healthcare professional license if convicted of, or eligible for intervention in lieu of conviction, for aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, or unlawful distribution of an abortion inducing drug.
- For immediate suspension of healthcare professional license for addiction or improperly distributing a controlled substance.
- For denial of employment at a pain clinic (which is a category III distributor of dangerous drugs).
- For suspension of license of healthcare professional for failure to pay child support.
Criminal Record-sealing is a process that allows all "eligible offenders" in Ohio to apply to have their records sealed. Sealing a record means that your criminal conviction will be cleared and your record sealed from the public. However, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and other government agencies can look at your sealed record; and if you commit another crime, your sealed record can still be used against you in sentencing. People commonly refer to this as "expungement," but the correct term is "record-sealing."
The answer is more complicated than it first seems: Anyone who has been convicted of an offense in Ohio or any other state who has (1) not more than one felony conviction, (2) not more than two misdemeanor convictions if the convictions are not from the same offense, OR (3) not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction. However... When two or more convictions result from or are connected with the same act or result from actions committed at the same time, they count as one conviction. And... There is a "90 Day Rule": When two or three convictions result from the same indictment, information, complaint, guilty plea, or official proceeding and are the result of related criminal acts committed within a 90 day period, they are counted as one conviction.
When you apply for some jobs, apartments, and licenses, the people reviewing your application might look at your criminal record. If you have a conviction on your record, it decreases your chances of getting the job, apartment, or license.
Obtain a record-sealing form online or from the court and fill it out. For Felonies: Franklin County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts, 345 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 For Misdemeanors: Franklin County Municipal Court, 375 S. High Street 2nd Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215 File the completed application with the filing fee of $50 with the respective court. Note that if you cannot afford it, you may be eligible to file a motion to waive pre-payment of the filing fee. A review of your application for completeness and a record check will be performed by the court staff. The application and related information is sent to the Prosecutor. If the Prosecutor AGREES that the offender is eligible: the prosecutor and judge will sign off on the sealing and the record is then turned over to the Clerk of Courts where your record will be sealed. If the Prosecutor DISAGREES and files an objection: a hearing is scheduled with the judge in the most recent case. At the hearing the judge will agree, deny, or allow the sealing.
- Those involving a mandatory prison term.
- Any first or second degree felony.
- Any sex offenses.
- Any violent offenses that are either felonies or first-degree misdemeanors.
- Any offense where the victim was under 18 years old (except criminal non-support cases).
- DUI convictions.
For Misdemeanor Offenses: one year from final discharge* For Felony Offenses: three years from final discharge* *"Final Discharge" means after you have completed any sentence, including probation, or community control and have paid all outstanding fines.
Legal Aid Society of Columbus 1108 City Park Avenue Columbus, Ohio 43206 614.241.2001 Franklin County Public Defender's Office 373 S. High Street, 12th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215 614.645.8980