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A Fresh Start? Examining Ohio’s Updated Expungement Law

by | Jan 3, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Those with a history of low-level drug and theft charges that were previously prevented from having their cases expunged will be happy to know that the law has changed. Starting this year, the Ohio legislature has expanded the number and type of cases that can be expunged. This will benefit those who have long been haunted by past mistakes on background checks. 

Eligibility: Before asking whether your particular case can be expunged, you first have to know whether or not you are an “Eligible Offender.” If you do not meet the definition of an “Eligible Offender,” then you cannot get anything expunged. So what is an “Eligible Offender?” Let’s compare the definitions under the old and new law:

Eligible Offender Before =

< 3 Misdemeanors


< 1 Misdemeanor + One Felony

Eligible Offender Now =

< 5 Felonies


No Felonies of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Degree


No Offenses of Violence


No Felony Sex Offenses

On the surface, those who will instantly benefit from the expanded law will be those who once had too many convictions to be eligible for any expungements. If you are eligible under the new OR old law (yes, you can still be deemed eligible under either definition), then read on:

Waiting Period: An eligible offender must wait for a predetermined period of time before he or she may apply for expungement. This period begins to run after all of the requirements of your sentence have been completed. For example, if you were sentenced to one year of probation, then the following time periods would begin on the date on which your term of probation ended:

Dismissed or Acquitted Cases – No waiting

“No Billed” Cases (not indicted by the grand jury) = 2 years

Misdemeanors = 1 year


1 conviction = 3 years

2 convictions = 4 years

3+ convictions = 5 years

If you are an “Eligible Offender” and the applicable “Waiting Period” has passed, the final question is whether your particular convictions are eligible to be expunged. There is a long list of eligible crimes that may be expunged, so contact an expungement attorney if you have met the first two requirements (or if you have questions about whether you meet the first two requirements). The expungement attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima would be happy to help you.