Ohio Justice & Policy Center

One of the most popular services provided by OJPC’s second chance team is consultation and assistance in pursuit of record sealing.

A sealed record can open up new options for employment, housing, education and more.

Here are a few frequently asked questions on the topic of record sealing in Ohio:

What does it mean to seal a record? How is that different from expungement?

Sealing a record means that it should no longer be available through publicly available records or background checks, though it may still be available to some employers, such as many schools or health-care providers, through government-issued BCI/FBI background checks. Expungement, on the other hand, means that the record is destroyed. Expungement is available in only limited situations, such as for victims of human trafficking.

What kinds of convictions cannot be sealed?

For a full list, you should consult our two-page guide, “Can I Seal My Criminal Record?” Some of the common types of convictions that cannot be sealed are first- and second-degree felonies (“F1s” and “F2s”); traffic offenses (except as provided in R.C. 2953.61); and certain offenses of violence or sex offenses. Whether your particular conviction is sealable can be complicated, though, so we advise consulting with a trained attorney.

What if I have criminal charges pending against me?

You are not eligible to seal a record if you have any “pending” criminal cases—for example, if you are currently facing criminal charges. How far this rule extends into things like probation and unpaid fines in other cases is open to debate. However, you will likely increase your chances of success by resolving all matters, such as any unpaid fines, probation, or outstanding warrants in all other cases before applying to seal a record.

When can I apply to seal a particular record of conviction?

You must wait a certain amount of time after “final discharge” from a conviction before you can apply for that particular record to be sealed. A case has reached final discharge when you have completed all obligations in the sentence, including any jail or prison sentence, probation or parole, and restitution or fines. The time to wait after final discharge varies based on the type of conviction and number of relevant convictions you have:

  • If the conviction is a misdemeanor: 1 year
  • If the conviction is your only felony: 3 years
  • If the conviction is one of 2 felonies you have: 4 years
  • If the conviction is one of 3–5 felonies you have: 5 years

What if I was not convicted?

If your case was dismissed or you were acquitted, you can apply right away! If your case was “ignored” or “no-billed,” you have to wait two years.

Where do I apply to have my record sealed?

You must turn in your application to the particular court where the conviction or non-conviction occurred. So if you have both a felony and a misdemeanor, for example, you will likely have to file in two different courts.

Is there a fee for applying to seal records?

It depends. Sealing non-convictions is free. Sealing convictions requires a filing fee of at least $50 (and some courts charge more). That said, the statute gives you the right to have the fee waived if you are indigent. You can claim indigency by filing an “affidavit of indigency.” It is ultimately up to the court whether to waive the fee for you.

Disclaimer: This FAQ is a general source of information and is not a substitute for individualized legal advice. For specific questions, we recommend consulting an attorney. You are always welcome to contact the Ohio Justice & Policy Center’s Second Chance Team at secondchance@ohiojpc.org.