Felony Expungement in Ohio: What You Need to Know

felony expungement

Worried about having a permanent criminal record?

If you’ve been convicted of or even just charged with a crime, this means that you have a criminal record, and any background check that’s run on you will show that item. It can be an embarrassing situation at best and, at worst, it can keep you from achieving certain goals in life.

If you’re curious about how Ohio’s expungement laws apply to your criminal conviction, speak with a Cleveland criminal defense lawyer today about your options. 

What Is Expungement?

Often referred to as “sealing criminal records,” expungement is the legal process of eliminating a criminal record from the view of the public. If the court decides to expunge criminal records, any reference to the arrest, the charge, and the conviction will be unavailable to view in court record requests or public records searches.

However, the records still may be accessible to the court and other government agencies.

Which Felony Convictions Cannot Be Expunged in the Buckeye State?

While there are certain felony offenses that may be eligible for sealing, there are certain crimes that cannot be expunged in Ohio. Most notably, first and second-degree felonies are ineligible for expungement.

There are some other categories of crimes, however, that are typically not eligible to be expunged.

Felony Sex Offenses

When a felony charge involves certain sexual aspects, these criminal records are typically ineligible for expungement, and include:

  • Rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Sexual imposition
  • Voyeurism
  • Felony sexual penetration

Crimes Involving Minors

Felonies that involve children are also excluded from eligibility when it comes to expunging criminal records. 

Some examples include:

  • Child pornography
  • Obscenity involving a minor
  • Promoting or compelling prostitution involving a minor
  • Displaying, disseminating, or deceiving to obtain matter that’s harmful to minors

Violent Crimes

When a charge or conviction is for a violent crime—including certain degrees of domestic violence and felony burglary charges—it typically cannot be expunged in Ohio courts. 

Exceptions include some misdemeanor charges for violent offenses as well as charges that end up being reduced and convicted at a lesser eligible charge.

Traffic Offenses

In general, traffic violations are not eligible for expungement and will remain on your driving record with the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This includes DUI and OVI offenses.

What’s the Process for Expunging Criminal Records in Ohio?

With recent changes to Ohio’s expungement law, expunging a misdemeanor conviction (or even felony convictions) is more accessible than ever. There are, however, certain steps that must be taken in order to effectively get your record expunged.

Complete the Waiting Period for Expungement

If you’re looking to seal records, unfortunately, you may have to wait sometime to begin the process. The timeframe for requesting an expungement begins after your sentence – including probation – ends. For misdemeanor convictions and fourth or fifth-degree felony offenses, a one year waiting period is required. For a third-degree felony offense, a three-year waiting period is required.

If a criminal charge is dismissed, if a not guilty verdict was reached, or if the grand jury returns a “No Bill,” you can have the criminal record expunged immediately as long as you’re an eligible offender. 

Determine If You are an Eligible Offender for Expungement

Again, first- and second-degree felonies, violent offenses, sex crimes, and crimes involving minors are offenses that are not eligible for expungement. In addition, you may be ineligible for expungement if you were subject to a mandatory jail sentence or still owe money to the court.

File an Application for Expungement and Attend a Hearing

Once you’ve completed the waiting period after your sentence and you’ve determined that you are an “eligible offender” for expungement, a Cleveland expungement attorney will file the necessary expungements petitions with the court and provide legal representation for any scheduled court hearings.

Keep in mind that just because you’re eligible for expungement doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be granted expungement. The court will make the final determination on whether record-sealing will be granted for criminal charges and records.

How a Criminal Record Affects Your Life

Having a felony conviction on your record can be frustrating and devastating to your life. 

Not only does having a record damage your reputation among family and friends, but it could also impact other areas of your life, including your ability to:

  • Own a firearm
  • Find a job
  • Get approved for a loan
  • Obtain adequate housing
  • Have custody of your children
  • Volunteer for youth activities and school events

Want to Expunge a Felony Conviction? A Cleveland Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

There’s a lot at risk when you’re dealing with a felony conviction. Not only do you often have to face consequences like jail time and hefty fines, but you’ll also be nervous every time a background check is run on you.

The good news is that, under Ohio law, you may be eligible for felony expungement for certain criminal records. Keep in mind that—even if you’re not an “eligible offender”—there are sometimes exceptions made to expungement law, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate this complex legal road.

Contact The Botnick Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.

Author Bio

Botnick Law Firm

Robert Botnick is CEO and Managing Partner of Botnick Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Cleveland, OH. With more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Robert received his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Best DUI Lawyers in Cleveland award by

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google