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New Ohio Law Prohibits Sealing of Domestic Violence Threat Offenses

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Domestic Violence

On April 4, 2023, Ohio Senate Bill 288 (“SB288”) will go into effect. SB288 has a significant number of changes to Ohio’s sealing and expungement laws. In recent years, the General Assembly has been expanding the sealing and expungement laws to allow for more offenses to be removed from your record. For the most part, SB288 continues this tread. However, that is not the case for the lowest level domestic violence offense (R.C. 2919.25(C)).

What does R.C. 2919.25(C) prohibit?

Ohio Revised Code section 2919.25(C) states, “No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.”

In other words, if someone threatens to harm a family or household member in a way that makes the family or household member believe the person threatening them will call immediate harm to them, then that person will be convicted of a fourth-degree domestic violence charge.

 What is the law until April 4, 2023?

Currently, Ohio law permits an otherwise “eligible offender” to petition the court to have his/her record of conviction sealed for a fourth-degree domestic violence under R.C. 2919.25(C). In other words, the court cannot, currently, reject a motion to seal your record just because you have a conviction for R.C. 2919.25(C).

 What is the law on and after April 4, 2023 when SB288 takes effect?

SB288 changes the sealing statute (R.C. 2953.32) to prohibit the sealing of any offense of domestic violence, including R.C. 2919.25(C).

Why does this matter?

Because fourth-degree misdemeanor domestic violence under R.C. 2919.25(C) were eligible for sealing, it was a common occurrence for a plea agreement to be reached for first time offenders that amended a first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence (“DVM1”) charge down to a fourth-degree domestic violence (“DVM4”). Now such an agreement will result in the defendant being unable to have the conviction record sealed and removed from the defendant’s record.

Make sure to consult with an experienced criminal trial attorney who is also aware of the significant changes to Ohio law through SB 288. Our experience criminal trial attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima can be reached at 513-932-2115.



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