What You Need to Know About Getting a Domestic Violence Charge Expunged in Ohio
Ohio will expunge domestic violence charges under certain conditions. Here’s what you need to know about getting domestic violence charges expunged in Ohio.
Individuals in Ohio can only apply for expungement if they meet certain criteria. Applicants can decide if they are eligible to apply for domestic violence expungement in Ohio based on the following factors.
What Does it Mean to Have a Domestic Violence Charge Expunged in Ohio?
In Ohio, most adult records are “sealed” rather than “expunged.” Sealed records cannot be seen by the public or in background checks. Some court and government authorities can see sealed records in certain circumstances. This article will use the terms “expunged” and “sealed” interchangeably.
When Will Ohio Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge
Sealed charges are not available to the public, and background checks will not reveal expunged records. This means that individuals with sealed records have access to more job opportunities, education, housing, and government assistance. Having an unsealed criminal record may also impact the children of a convicted individual.
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Many domestic violence charges are first-degree misdemeanors or felonies so an Ohio court will not expunge them. However, a court can seal a domestic violence charge in Ohio if it is a second, third, or fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Sometimes domestic violence charges can be reduced from first-degree misdemeanors to lesser misdemeanors as part of a plea agreement. This makes it possible to seal the charges in the future, so long as the applicant meets all other expungement conditions.
Who Can Apply to Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge in Ohio
Only certain people can have their domestic violence charges sealed in Ohio. Ohio Senate Bill 66 (2019) expanded the pool of people who are eligible to apply for expungement.
An Ohio court considers domestic violence an “offense of violence”, so applicants who want to have their domestic violence charges sealed must meet stricter standards than others. To have their domestic violence charges sealed, applicants must be convicted of either:
- No more than two misdemeanors and no felonies
- No more than one misdemeanor and one felony
Applicants who meet this standard can apply to expunge their second, third, or fourth-degree domestic violence misdemeanor if they:
- Do not have an open criminal case
- Do not owe restitution
- Are not on probation
- Wait one year after final discharge
The one-year waiting period begins after the applicant has:
- Completed all jail/prison time
- Completed probation period
- Paid all fines
If an applicant meets all of these criteria, they can apply to have their misdemeanor domestic violence charge sealed. As part of the expungement application, the applicant must convince the judge that they are rehabilitated, and won’t commit more crimes.
How to Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge in Ohio
To submit an application to expunge a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Ohio, an individual must have:
First, the applicant must go to the Clerk of the Court in which the court convicted them and request a certified copy of the Judgment Order of Conviction(s). Then, they must fill out the Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record Pursuant to the ORC §2953.32 form and the Judgement Entry for Sealing form. The applicant can also fill out the Poverty Affidavit if they cannot pay the $50 dollar filing fee.
Second, the applicant must make three copies of the “Judgment Order of Conviction(s)”, Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record Pursuant to ORC §2953.32, and the Poverty Affidavit (if they filled it out.)
Third, they must file these forms with the County Clerk. The County Clerk will take two copies of each form, and give the applicant a third copy to hold on to. Applicants should bring this form to their hearing. Applicants who do not fill out the Poverty Affidavit will not have to pay the $50 filing fee.
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Once the applicant files these forms, the Court mails them their hearing date. The applicant must show up to court on the day of the hearing to convince the judge that they are sorry for what they did, have changed since committing the crime, and will not commit any more crimes.
They should also explain why they want to expunge their record, and that one year has passed since they were discharged.
Applicants should prepare what they will say to the judge before the hearing. The judge may make a decision in Court, or take some time to decide. If they do not decide at the hearing, they will mail their decision to the applicant.