The recent trend from the Ohio legislature has been to expand the types and number of convictions that defendants are able to have sealed, what some people often consider to be expunged. There are two factors that must be considered when determining if a defendant is eligible to have their record sealed. The first is the type of conviction and how many convictions the defendant previously has. The second consideration is how long must the defendant wait.
What types and number of offenses are eligible?
A defendant is an eligible offender under Ohio law either one of two ways. The first is that the defendant is eligible so long as their convictions are either fourth- or fifth-degree felonies or misdemeanors. They can have an unlimited number of convictions of these types so long as these offenses are non-violent, not sexually oriented offenses, and not a third-degree felony or higher.
As far as the second scenario, a defendant is an eligible offender, even if they do not qualify through the above-stated path, if they have no more than two felony convictions; no more than four misdemeanor convictions; or no more than exactly two felony convictions and two misdemeanors. While this sounds like it may overlap with the above, keep in mind the felonies discussed under this path would be third-degree felonies—which exclude a defendant from the prior path. So, a defendant with a third-degree felony is eligible so long as they have no more than four misdemeanor convictions as well. As we the preceding path, these offenses must not be sexually oriented offenses, felony crimes of violence, or first- or second-degree felonies.
Ohio law has still not changed in that certain crimes can never be sealed. Traffic offenses such as OVI, reckless operation, or speeding tickets, first degree misdemeanor domestic violence, first and second-degree felonies, felonies that carry mandatory prison sentences, and felony crimes of violence and sexually-oriented offenses can never be sealed.
How soon is a defendant eligible?
Ohio law states that misdemeanors and eligible fourth- and fifth-degree felonies are eligible to be sealed one year after the case is over. So, for example, if a defendant is convicted of a fifth-degree felony for drug possession and receives three years of probation, they can seal it one year after that probation concludes. For a third-degree felony, defendants are eligible after three years from the conclusion of the case.