What is an expungement?
In Ohio, expunging your criminal record is the same as sealing a record. It is a legal process provided under Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code that allows one to have any and all references to a prior criminal conviction cleared and their court file sealed. The result of this process is as if you were never convicted of the crime, with certain exceptions.
Why get an expungement?
There are many benefits to expunging your criminal record. Whether you are applying for a new job or even an apartment, people reviewing your application may want to know if you have ever been convicted of a criminal charge. If there is a conviction for a criminal charge on your record, it is not likely that you will be chosen for the job, promotion, or perhaps even be allowed to rent an apartment. If you are involved in legal proceedings as a party or simply a witness, you could be asked questions about your past criminal record. Having a conviction on your history, the court or a jury may not believe your testimony as a witness or they may doubt the merits of your case if you are a party. Several years ago, a simple criminal conviction may not have had any impact on you. Today, a criminal conviction may bar you from career opportunities, advancement, or may cause you to lose your current job.
What happens when my case is expunged?
If the court deems that an expungement of a criminal offense is appropriate, the court must order all official records pertaining to the case sealed and all index references to the case deleted. Upon issuance of the order, the proceedings in the case shall generally be considered not to have occurred, and the conviction of the person subject to the proceedings shall be sealed. Expungement of a criminal conviction is an excellent way to put the past behind you and close a chapter on a past mistake. With an expungement of the record, a person can go forward with their lives without being haunted by a prior conviction or having to disclose a criminal record. Expungements can provide a clean slate, piece of mind, and the freedom to pursue career opportunities that may not have been available with a criminal record.
Why spend the money to expunge my record?
If you have a criminal conviction and you do not expunge the record of that offense, you may never know the price of failing to expunge your record in terms of employment, credibility or missed opportunities.
While most people expunge their records for employment or career-related reasons, a great many clients wish to expunge their record so that they may have closure and peace of mind for knowing that there is no record of their old mistake.
What if I was charged, but the case was dismissed or I was found not guilty?
If you were charged but the case was dismissed or a court or jury found you not guilty, you can have the records of your charges expunged and sealed.
After expunging your criminal record, do the records just disappear?
Once your criminal record is expunged, nothing will show up when your record is checked. Even if your record is sealed, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and some other agencies can look at your sealed record. If you commit another crime, your sealed record can still be used against you in sentencing.
Can’t I just represent myself and save money?
Expungement requires drafting and filing of a motion (a formal legal document asking the court to take a particular action). The expungement motion will be filed with the court that sentenced you. It will also have to be served on the prosecutor in some cases, and the probation department. At the expungement hearing, oral or non-oral, the court must be convinced through persuasion and demonstration that your rehabilitation has been obtained and that you are deserving of an expungement. An expungement is a privilege and not a right. The court may deny your expungement if they question that you have met all the qualifications under the Ohio Revised Code, or the court is not satisfied that you have been rehabilitated.
To determine your eligibility for expunging your criminal record, contact the expert attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein to find out your options today!
In Lake County, call 440.946.7656
In Cuyahoga County, call 216.861.4211