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Expunging or Sealing an Ohio

Criminal Arrest or Conviction


Expunging used to be the term used to describe the process of sealing or hiding a criminal conviction.  Ohio no longer uses the word "expunge".  Instead they use the word "sealing".

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A RECORD IS SEALED

When documents are sealed they are not destroyed. They are sealed in an envelope, marked with the case number and placed back in the file.

They can be unsealed should a law enforcement agency need to determine if a prior conviction would affect another case they are investigating. For example, if the police are investigating a domestic violence, that crime might be a felony on a second offense. If the police learn about the sealed case, they can open and peek inside to see if that case would affect theirs. If it will, the case is unsealed and used against you. If not, the case is resealed.

Licensing boards have access to sealed files. If you want to become a nurse, teacher, doctor, lawyer, beautician or other licensed profession, they will have access to your sealed file.

If you are employed by an agency that has a homeland security background check or investigation, your case will be unsealed and the information made known.

WHAT DOES NOT HAPPEN

If a third party data supplier picked up your arrest, it is unlikely you will be able to purge that data from their records without a fight. That fight will be long and expensive.

For a discussion of this, see this article in the New York Times.  A PDF of that article is available here.

 


Types of Sealings

If you were NOT convicted of a crime, but instead the charges were dropped or you were found not guilty:

Sealing a non-conviction

If you WERE convicted:

Sealing a conviction

 


Sealing can be difficult

In Cuyahoga County, the prosecutor's office has a policy of fighting all sealings.  Sometimes their response is silly and ignored.  Other times they are quite vocal and will fight an attempt to seal.

Different courts approach sealings in different ways.  I will need you to come to my office so that I can prepare you for what might happen.  The hearing to grant the sealing might be trivial.  It might also be a difficult, long trail that involves my applying evidence of why you need this sealing to be granted and the effect a denial will have on your future.

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