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Sealing & Expungement

Historically, in Ohio the terms expungement and sealing have improperly been used interchangeably.  Expungement refers to the general destruction of records that cannot later be accessed by anyone.  Sealing refers to the movement of records to remove them from public access. 

To have an offense sealed or expunged, the offense must be an eligible offense and a time requirement must have been met for that offense to be eligible for being sealed.  Below we outline the offenses that cannot be sealed and the timeline for the sealing of those offenses that are eligible to be sealed.

Below we outline (1) What offenses can be sealed / expunged in Ohio, and (2) when can those offenses be sealed / expunged. 

What offenses can be sealed / expunged in Ohio?

Most misdemeanors and most felonies of the third, fourth, and fifth degree can be sealed.  While there are some exceptions, generally, in Ohio traffic offenses, violent offenses, sexually oriented offenses, domestic violence, and felonies of the first and second degree cannot be sealed or expunged. 

Specifically what offenses cannot be sealed / expunged in Ohio?

In Ohio, an increasing number of offenses can be sealed or expunged.  However, there are specific offenses and categories of offenses that are unsealable and cannot be expunged pursuant to R.C. 2953.32 revised in October of 2023. 

1.00.  Traffic Offenses.  Traffic Offenses in Ohio cannot generally be sealed, regardless of whether under a municipal ordinance or the Ohio Revised Code chapters 4506, 4507, 4510, 4511, or 4549.  An OVI / DUI in Ohio cannot be sealed or expunged.  A speeding ticket in Ohio cannot be sealed or expunged. R.C. 2953.32 (A)(1)(a). 

2.00.  Felonies of the First and Second Degree.  A felony of the first degree cannot be sealed or expunged in Ohio.  A felony of the second degree cannot be sealed or expunged in Ohio.  R.C. 2953.32(A)(1)(e).

3.00.  Violent Felony Offenses.  A violent felony offense that is not a sexually oriented offense cannot be sealed or expunged in Ohio.  R.C. 2953.32 (A)(1)(b).

      - 2905.01 Abduction

      - 2909.02 Aggravated Arson

      - 2903.12 Aggravated Assault

      - 2903.21 Aggravated menacing

      - 2903.01 Aggravated murder

      - 2917.02 Aggravated riot

      - 2911.01 Aggravated robbery

      - 2909.03 Arson

      - 2903.13 Assault

      - 2911.11 Aggravated Burglary

      - 2911.12 (A)(1), (2), or (3) Burglary

      - 2919.25 Domestic Violence

      - 2919.22(B)(1), (2), (3), or (4) Endangering children

      - 2905.11 Extortion

      - 2903.11 Felonious assault

      - 2907.12 (former) Felonious sexual penetration

      - 2907.05 Gross sexual imposition

      - 2923.161 Improperly discharging firearm

      - 2921.34 Escape

      - 2917.01 Inciting to violence

      - 2917.31 Inducing panic

      - 2921.03 Intimidation

      - 2903.04 Involuntary Manslaughter

      - 2905.01 Kidnapping

      - 2903.22 Menacing

      - 2903.211 Menacing by stalking

      - 2903.02 Murder

      - 2903.34(A)(1) Patient Abuse or Neglect

      - 2921.04 Intimidation of attorney, victim, or witness

      - 2903.15 Permitting child abuse

      - 2907.02 Rape

      - 2917.03 Riot

      - 2907.03 Sexual battery

      - 2909.24 Terrorism

      - 2905.32 Trafficking in Persons

      - 2903.03 Voluntary Manslaughter

      - 2911.02 Robbery

      - 2903.18 Strangulation or suffocation

4.00.  Victim Under the Age of 13.  A felony offense where the victim is under the age of 13 at the time of the offense cannot be sealed or expunged in Ohio.  However, a conviction for felony non-support of dependents can be sealed in Ohio.  R.C. 2953.32 (A)(1)(d).

5.00. Sexually Oriented Offenses.  A sexually oriented offense when the offender is subject to the requirements of Chapter 2950.  R.C. 2953.32 (A)(1)(c).

6.00.  Domestic Offenses.  A violation of a protection order is not eligible to be sealed or expunged in Ohio.  A conviction of Domestic Violence is not eligible to be sealed or expunged in Ohio, unless it was for a misdemeanor of the fourth degree then it may be sealed but still cannot be expunged.  R.C. 2953.32 (A)(1)(f), (A)(2). 

When can an offense be sealed / expunged in Ohio?

Even if an offense can be sealed, sometimes
it is a matter of timing, and the timing of
eligibility to be sealed is dependent upon the nature of the offense.

Specifically when can an offense be sealed / expunged in Ohio?

In Ohio, the timeline varies in which offenses become sealable and can be expunged pursuant to R.C. 2953.32, which was revised in October of 2023. 

1.00.  Sealing.

1.01.  Bribery - 7 Years.  A bribery offense in Ohio is eligible to be sealed seven (7) years after the offender's final discharge. 

1.02.  Sex Offenses - 5 Years.  A sex offense in Ohio is eligible to be sealed five (5) years after the offender's duty to register has ended.

1.03.  Felony Conviction F3 - 3 Years.  A felony conviction (or two) of a felony of the third degree is eligible to be sealed as long as there is no bribery offense. 

1.04.  Felony Conviction F4, F5, or Misdemeanors - 1 Year.  One or more felony of the fourth degree or fifth degree, or one or more misdemeanors may be sealed in Ohio one (1) year after the offender's final discharge. 

1.05.  Minor Misdemeanors - 6 Months.  Minor misdemeanors are eligible in Ohio to be sealed six (6) months after the offender's final discharge. 

1.06.  Bail Forfeiture - Any time.  A bail forfeiture in a misdemeanor case is eligible to be sealed in Ohio at any time after the date on which the bail forfeiture was entered upon the minutes of the Court's jounral. 

2.00.  Expungement. 

2.01.  Felonies - 10 Years.   A felony is eligible for expungement in Ohio ten (10) years after the specified time for sealing.

2.02.  Bribery Offenses - 7 Years.  A bribery offense is eligible for expungement in Ohio seven (7) years after the offender's final discharge.

2.03.  Bail Forfeiture - 3 Years.  Bail forfeiture in misdemeanor case is eligible for expungement in Ohio three (3) years after the date on which the bail forfeiture was entered upon the minutes of the Court Journal. 

2.04.  Misdemeanors - 1 Year.  With the exception of bribery, a misdemeanor is eligible for expungement in Ohio one (1) year after the offender's final discharge. 

2.05.  Minor Misdemeanors - 6 Months.  A minor misdemeanor is eligible to be sealed in Ohio six (6) months after the offender's final discharge.  

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