What is Sealing (Expungement) of A Record?
It is the court process that allows you to have any and all references to a prior criminal conviction cleared and your court file sealed. It is as if you were never convicted of the crime.
Once the record is sealed, nothing will show up when your record is checked. After sealing is finished, when asked about your past criminal record, you can honestly say that you have none. You can act as if the arrest and conviction never took place.
However, even if your record is sealed:
- Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and other agencies can look at your sealed record; and
- If you commit another crime, your sealed record can be used against you in sentencing.
Can I Get My Record Sealed (Expunged)?
If all of the following six statements are true for your situation, you will be able to request an expungement.
- The conviction you are trying to seal is NOT one of the crimes and/or categories of crimes listed below. (Convictions of the crimes listed CANNOT be sealed.)
- Rape (ORC 2907.02)
- Sexual battery (ORC 2907.03)
- Corrupting a minor (ORC 2907.04)
- Gross sexual imposition (ORC 2907.05)
- Sexual imposition (ORC 2907.06)
- Obscenity involving a minor ORC 2907.321)
- Pornography involving a minor (ORC 2907.323)
- Illegal use of a minor in pornography (ORC 2907.323)
- All driver license violations (ORC 4507)
- Driver’s license Suspension, Cancellation, Revocation (ORC Chapter 4510)
- Motor vehicle violations (ORC Chapter 4511)
- Motor Vehicle Crimes (ORC 4549)
- Bail forfeitures in traffic cases (Traffic Rule 2)
- Misdemeanors of the first degree or felonies where the victim is under the age of 18
- Felonies of the first or second degree
- Offenses of violence that are misdemeanors of the first or second degree or felonies, this includes Domestic Violence as of 3/23/2000
Exceptions to the above offenses that CAN BE expunged: convictions for Riot 2917.03; and misdemeanor convictions for assault (ORC 2903.13); inciting to violence (ORC 2917.01) and including panic (ORC 2917.31)
- You were NOT subject to a mandatory prison term for the conviction you seek to expunge (in other words, you were eligible for probation for that conviction) Even if you were actually sentenced to prison time as long as you were eligible for probation.
- This was your FIRST and only conviction. You have never been convicted of the same crime or any other crime in this or any other state.Unless:
- You were convicted of two or more crimes based upon the same action. In that case, all of these convictions will be considered your first and all can be erased from your record. For example, if you were convicted of shoplifting and resisting arrest as a result of the shoplifting, you may be eligible to get both records sealed.
- Your other convictions are for minor misdemeanors. Minor misdemeanors, including most traffic offenses, do not count as criminal convictions. These charges should not prevent you from having your record sealed.
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor and more than one year has passed since your “final discharge,” or you were convicted of a felony and more than three years has passed since your “final discharge.” FINAL DISCHARGE means completion of all parts of the sentence as well as jail time and/or probation.
- You currently do not have any criminal or traffic proceedings pending against you.
- You do not have any other cases expunged.
Steps You Must Follow to Seal Your Record
- You need a copy of the “final order” on the conviction you wish to have sealed. Contact the Clerk’s office in the court in which you were convicted. Remember, your case was “criminal” so be sure to go to the appropriate part of the office. Request a certified copy of the judgment order of conviction. (In South Euclid Municipal Court there is a small fee for this copy.) You will need to give the clerk your case number. If you do not know the number, you can locate it using the court computer system or our online record search.
- Fill in the blanks on the “Application to Seal a Criminal Record” form, AT LEAST ONE YEAR FROM THE TERMINATION OF YOUR PROBABTION MUST HAVE PASSED. The Probation Department MUST sign your application before filing it with the Court if you were on probation.
- To apply to have your record sealed, you must pay a filing fee. In the South Euclid Municipal Court, this fee is $75.00 if you were convicted, found not guilty, or the case was dismissed. (There are special forms available for cases that were dismissed. You can file an expungement request any time after a dismissal is granted or not guilty finding is made.) There is no filing fee for cases in the court’s Eligible Offender or Diversion Program.
- After you have the application form filled out, attach a copy of the judgment entry of conviction.
- Make three (3) copies of the application and all supporting documents.
- Take the original and the copies, along with payment for the filing fee to the clerk’s office in the court in which you were convicted.
- Tell the clerk you wish to file your documents.
- The clerk will take all copies, date time stamp them and give you one copy back.
- The clerk will give you a hearing date for the sealing of your record. In the South Euclid Municipal Court, this date will be about four (4) weeks from when you file your application. (Other courts may vary.) The clerk will also advise you to go to the probation office to make an appointment for an interview if you were on probation. You must do this immediately or your hearing could be postponed.
- Before the court date, prepare what you will say to the Judge. The Judge will need to feel confident that you are no longer someone who would commit a crime. (You have been rehabilitated.)
- On your court date, the bailiff will call your name and your case will be heard. Explain to the Judge why it is important to you to have your record sealed. The prosecutor will be given a chance to object to your request.
- The Judge must make a decision weighing the interests in having the records sealed against the government’s need to keep these records. The Judge may make a decision later. If no decision is made in Court, a copy of the decision will be mailed to you. Make sure the Court has your current address and contact information.