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How to Expunge a Misdemeanor Conviction in Ohio

June 11, 2024 | Sebaly Shillito + Dyer

If you’ve ever been convicted of a misdemeanor in Ohio, you might be wondering how you can clear your record. Having a criminal record can impact various aspects of your life, from employment opportunities to housing options. 

Fortunately, Ohio law provides a process called expungement that allows eligible offenders to remove their criminal records under certain circumstances.

Every case has its unique components. Below is general information on this subject, which is not intended to be a substitute for qualified legal advice for your specific matter. You should always consult legal counsel for the best answers to whether you qualify and/or would be granted an expungement.

In this guide, we’ll explore the steps involved in expunging a misdemeanor in Ohio and provide helpful tips along the way.

Understanding Expungement

Expungement is a legal process that allows individuals to have certain criminal records erased and hidden from public view.

This means that once your record is expunged, it will not show up on background checks, except for applications for law enforcement, helping you move forward with a clean slate.

Criminal records in Ohio do not disappear after a certain amount of time. If you want to expunge the records of a conviction, you must petition the sentencing court.

What’s the Difference Between Sealing Records and Expungement?

“Expungement” and “sealing the record” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are not the same.  These terms refer to similar processes, but they have important distinctions.

Sealing Criminal Records

Sealing criminal records means that the record is hidden from the general public view but is not destroyed or permanently irretrievable. The record still exists but is not accessible through most regular background checks.

Sealed records are accessible to

  • Certain law enforcement agencies, like the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI)
  • Courts in some instances for sentencing considerations
  • Certain government agencies

Sealed records are not accessible to the general public, including

  • Employers and background checks
  • Landlords
  • Educational institutions

Sealing is more commonly used and easier to obtain than expungement, which often has stricter eligibility requirements and may be limited to certain types of offenses.


Expunging a criminal record involves the complete removal and destruction of the record as if the offense never occurred. It is a more thorough process compared to sealing. Expungement offers a higher level of relief from the consequences of a criminal record.

Expunged records are not accessible to:

  • Law enforcement agencies, other than BCI
  • The general public
  • Employers and background checks
  • Landlords
  • Educational institutions

Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2953.21(D)(5), When any entity, other than BCI, receives official notice from the court that a record has been expunged, that entity shall destroy, delete, and erase the record so that the record is permanently irretrievable. 

A person can deny the existence of charges to records that are sealed. 

For reference, see Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2953.24 below.

(L)(1) In any application for employment, license, or any other right or privilege, any appearance as a witness, or any other inquiry, a person may not be questioned with respect to any record that has been sealed or expunged pursuant to section 2953.33 of the Revised Code. If an inquiry is made in violation of this division, the person whose official record was sealed may respond as if the arrest underlying the case to which the sealed official records pertain and all other proceedings in that case did not occur, and the person whose official record was sealed shall not be subject to any adverse action because of the arrest, the proceedings, or the person’s response.

The nuances between sealed and expunged records are one of the many reasons we recommend you contact our experienced legal team if you have questions or need to schedule a consultation. 

Eligibility Criteria for an Expungement in Ohio

Before diving into the expungement process, it’s crucial to determine if you are an eligible offender. 

In Ohio, eligibility for expungement of a misdemeanor depends on various factors, including the type of offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, and your overall criminal history.

Generally, the following criteria must be met:

Time Since Conviction

Ohio law requires a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. For most misdemeanors, this waiting period is typically one year after the offender’s final discharge (also known as “termination of the case”), which could be the end of probation or the completion of any sentence imposed.

Minor misdemeanors only require a six-month waiting period. 

Type of Misdemeanor Criminal Conviction

Not all misdemeanors are eligible for expungement. Serious offenses such as violent crimes, sex offenses, and traffic offenses are usually not eligible.

However, most non-violent misdemeanors qualify. Traffic offenses are not eligible.

Criminal History

Your overall criminal history will also be considered. Having multiple convictions and/or a history of felony offenses may impact your eligibility.

Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2953.32, you are not considered an eligible offender if you have more than one felony conviction and/or more than two misdemeanor convictions. 

Note that one conviction can be a series of 2 to 3 convictions from the same case.

Expungement law can be confusing and complicated. We recommend getting a professional opinion from a lawyer. Contact us for a free consultation.

Steps to Expunge a Misdemeanor Conviction in Ohio

Eligible offenders may apply to the sentencing court for expungement of a criminal record. Here are the general steps involved:

Obtain Your Criminal Record

You will need a copy of your criminal record to begin the process. You can request this from the clerk of courts in the county court in which court in which the misdemeanor case was heard.

File an Application for Expungement

Fill out the Application for Expungement form, available from the court or online. Provide accurate information about your criminal case, including the offense, case number, and date of conviction.

Submit the completed application along with any required documents to the court where your case was handled. You will likely need to pay a filing fee, so be prepared for that expense.

Serve Notice

You may need to serve notice of your expungement application to various parties, including the prosecutor’s office. Follow any court orders regarding who needs to be notified.

Attend the Hearing on the Application

The Ohio Expungement Statute (2953 of the Ohio Revised Code) requires a court hearing on every application for misdemeanor expungement.

Be prepared to present your case and explain why you believe your record should be expunged.

Hiring an experienced expungement lawyer to go to court with you or on your behalf is the best way to successfully expunge a criminal record.

Wait for the Decision

After your application is submitted and hearings are completed, you will need to wait for the court’s decision. The court may take several weeks to months to decide, so be patient.

Tips for a Successful Expungement

Gather Documentation: Collect all official records pertaining to the case, including your criminal record, court documents, and any certificates of rehabilitation or completion of probation.

Follow Instructions Carefully: Pay close attention to the expungement instructions provided by the court. Missing a step or submitting incomplete information can delay the process.

Seek Legal Advice: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the expungement process or your eligibility, consider consulting with an expungement attorney. They can provide guidance tailored to your situation.

Be Honest: Provide accurate information on your application and during any hearings. Honesty is key to a successful expungement.

Final Thoughts

Expunging a misdemeanor in Ohio can be a valuable opportunity to move forward with your life without the burden of a criminal record.

By understanding the eligibility criteria, following the necessary steps, and seeking legal guidance if needed, you can increase your chances of a successful expungement.

Remember, each case is unique, so it’s essential to approach the process with patience and determination.

Schedule a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to take the first step toward clearing your record, contact SS+D Law today for a free consultation.

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Sebaly Shillito + Dyer