While it is believed the following information is accurate, you should consult an Ohio attorney to help you with the sealing process. You should also be aware that the law frequently changes and that there are certain exceptions that may not be listed in these Frequently Asked Questions.
Court Costs and Financial Responsibility
The term "court costs" is a term for various fees imposed by the state legislature. Those statutes require costs to be imposed whether there is an appearance or not.
Your payment due date will be your court date at the bottom of your ticket. You can check to see what you owe by visiting the "Pay Online" section of our website.
Court Appearance Questions
There are many things you can do to prepare for court. See the "Your Rights in Court" section of our website.
You must call the court prior to your court date to see if you qualify for a continuance. If you do not qualify and you don't come to court a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Failure to appear in court will result in a warrant for your arrest. You will be required to post a bond if you are subsequently arrested. The court will notify the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) of your failure to appear. The BMV will withhold the issuance or renewal of your driver's license and registration and suspend your driving privileges.
Record Sealing /Expungement
A criminal record may be sealed or expunged so that it is not available to the public. The statutes relating to sealing of records of convictions are found in Ohio Revised Code 2953.31-2953.38. The statutes relating to sealing of records after a finding of not guilty or dismissal are found in Ohio Revised Code 2953.51-2953.56.
"Eligible offender" means anyone who has been convicted of an offense in this state or any other jurisdiction and who has not more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in this state or any other jurisdiction. When two or more convictions result from or are connected with the same act or result from offenses committed at the same time, they shall be counted as one conviction. When two or three convictions result from the same indictment, information, or complaint, from the same plea of guilty, or from the same official proceeding, and result from related criminal acts that were committed within a three-month period but do not result from the same act or from offenses committed at the same time, they shall be counted as one conviction, provided that a court may decide as provided in Division (C)(1)(A) of §2953.32 of the Revised Code that it is not in the public interest for the two or three convictions to be counted as one conviction.
In In many cases, a conviction for a minor misdemeanor is not a conviction for purposes of sealing.
You should seek legal advice to determine whether the conviction(s) you are seeking to seal are eligible to be sealed.
Application may be made at the expiration of three years after an offender's final discharge if convicted of a felony, or at the expiration of one year after an offender's final discharge if convicted of a misdemeanor. Final disposition includes any time on probation or a community control sanction or parole. All court fines, costs, and restitution must be paid at least one year before you can file for sealing of your record for a misdemeanor offense (three years for a felony). In addition, you cannot have any pending cases.
When a person is charged with two or more offenses as a result of or in connection with the same act and the final disposition of one, and only one, of the charges is a conviction under any section of Chapter 4507, 4510, 4511, or 4549, other than Section 4511.19 or 4511.194 of the Revised Code, or under a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any section other than §4511.19 or §4511.194 of the Revised Code contained in any of those chapters, and if the records pertaining to all the other charges would be eligible for sealing under §2953.52 of the Revised Code in the absence of that conviction, the court may order that the records pertaining to all of the charges be sealed. In such a case, the court shall not order that only a portion of the records be sealed.
Not all charges/offenses are eligible to be sealed. The following convictions are ineligible to be sealed:
- Convictions with a mandatory prison term;
- Sex offense convictions;
- Convictions of violent offenses that are felonies or first-degree misdemeanors, with the exception of simple assault;
- Convictions of felonies or first degree misdemeanors where the victim is under 18 years old;
- Convictions of first or second-degree felonies;
- DUI/OVI convictions; and
- Driving under OVI suspension convictions
Once the court orders a person’s records to be sealed, the court is required by O.R.C. 2953.32(C)(2) to delete all official records pertaining to the case and to delete all index references to the case.
Even though the court may grant an order sealing someone’s conviction, O.R.C. 2953.32(D) lists 12 different exceptions and allows certain persons to inspect a sealed record anyway under certain conditions.
In addition, as explained in the accompanying disclaimer, the order sealing the records is effective only as of the date that the order is signed and filed. Because a person’s arrest and conviction records were public records before the order sealing them, it is entirely possible that information regarding the person’s arrest and conviction records has already been disseminated to members of the public. The court’s order sealing the records is ineffective to otherwise erase or delete information that was disseminated prior to the order granting the sealing.
You should be aware that there are exceptions to what records may be sealed and there are also provisions about accessing sealed records, so you should consult with legal counsel if you have any questions.
When a court orders a record sealed, it is effective on the date of the order to seal the official records and the record of the arresting agency and jail, if applicable. While a case is pending and until a record is sealed, it is a public record. While a public record, individuals and private businesses may download information from court, police, or jail files. The court order to seal does not undo such dissemination or apply to private businesses that may have downloaded your case information before the sealing. Therefore, private businesses or individuals may still have your case information even after your official record is sealed. If you become aware of such knowledge, it is your responsibility to notify the holder of the information and request that they comply with the spirit of the sealing law and delete their records. You should be aware that, under current law, they are not required to do so.
When someone is in jail they will have a first appearance to determine bond and the need for an attorney. Video initial appearances happen daily and the defendant, (person in Jail), will appear in court through video camera and will see the magistrate through video camera without ever leaving the jail. Family members may come to the Area II Court in downtown Hamilton, OH to view the process. The VIA schedule is under court services.
Court Location Questions - Parking, Addresses
Driver's License Questions
You must ask the Judge presiding over your case if you qualify and can attend the court LIP program.
Obtaining an Attorney
You should come to court and let the Judge know that you cannot afford an attorney. You will be asked to fill out paperwork and if you qualify then a public defender will be appointed to represent you. You will be required to pay a $25 application fee.
Yes, but if jail is a possible sentence, it may be wise to consult with an attorney, but you are not required to have attorney representation. If you are unable to afford an attorney and qualify for a court appointed attorney, one may be appointed for you.