In June of 2012, the Ohio Legislature passed a bill creating a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (“CQE”). Contained in Revised Code § 2953.25, the CQE increases employment and licensing opportunities for individuals whose previous options had been few and/or nonexistent. It also creates incentives for employers who hire individuals with CQE’s.
The CQE is a valuable tool for individuals with criminal records who are unable to have those convictions sealed or pardoned. The convictions often create collateral consequences for individuals, including being able to obtain a professional license, such as a contractor’s license to be an electrician or plumber, a nursing license, a certified public accountant, dental hygienist, architect, optician, and many, many others. In fact, the Ohio Justice and Policy Center has identified over 1,600 collateral consequences in Ohio law.
To apply for a CQE, an individual must wait one year after his or her sentence ends after a felony, or six months after his or her sentence ends for a misdemeanor. Unlike the sealing process, there are no restrictions with respect to the number of prior convictions on an individual’s record. An individual can apply online for this certificate at: www.drccqe.com. Once the application is deemed complete, the applicant can then file it in the Common Pleas Court where he or she resides. A Court may issue a CQE if it finds that:
- Granting the petition will materially assist the individual in obtaining employment or occupational licensing
- The individual has a substantial need for the relief requested in order to live a law-abiding life
- Granting the petition would not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety of the public or any individual
The CQE remains in effect unless or until the recipient commits a felony.
Since 2013, Ohio Courts have granted 359 CQE’s and denied 146 requests. A recent survey by the University of Akron School of law indicated that 40% of those recipients of CQE’s who responded to the survey found it to be useful when seeking employment. Based on this CQE’s are valuable alternatives for individuals who are ineligible to seal their record. For any questions about CQE’s or to see if you are eligible please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.