In modern society, the lingering effects of a criminal conviction often include the digital impact that your arrest will have on your career or future job prospects. Commonly, a sealed or expunged record can still have online echoes through online police blotters, local newspaper articles, and mugshot-hoarding websites to name a few.
The Ohio legislature recently tasked the Ohio Attorney General with selecting a private firm to help courts deal with the ever-changing digital impact that a criminal conviction, or even a dismissed criminal charge, can have on a person’s future. Through R.C. § 109.38, the Attorney General has implemented a new opt-out service for sealing or expunging records in Ohio. In theory, if your case is statutorily eligible, once your attorney files the appropriate motions with the court, the new service will clean up all permanent references to your arrest and/or conviction. However, the new system comes with a predictable disclaimer that the new service cannot guarantee all records will be destroyed.
Why the disclaimer? Because the Internet never forgets. For those defendants that were required to submit to a mugshot and/or were taken to jail pending a bail hearing at the time of their arrests, more data was created that could be posted on the Internet. Thus, cleaning up their records afterwards becomes a more difficult task.
Various websites have created a business plan based on making you pay to have your mugshot removed from their various sites, even if your case was dismissed or expunged. Recent news suggests that these types of sites may soon be shut down for good as charges were recently filed against one set of site owners. But that doesn’t mean new sites won’t pop up in its place.
It’s important to make sure you discuss with your attorney your options about sealing or expunging your record or what information from your case may exist on the Web.