Criminal Record-Sealing

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.

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.”

How do I know if I’m an Eligible Offender?

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.

How to Apply on Your Own for Offense in Franklin County:

  • 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.

Which Offenses Cannot Be Sealed?

  • 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.

When Can You Apply?

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.

Where To Go For Help

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

Ohio Legal Services:

Expungement Template

Franklin Country Reentry Coalition

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