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What's On Your Record? Expungements Are Not Just For Those With Criminal Records

In our October 8th, 2012 blog post, we discussed the change in Ohio's conviction expungement law.  But what if an individual does not have any criminal convictions, but has a criminal arrest or court records because they were wrongfully accused?  The answers may be found in Ohio Revised Code sections 2953.52 and 109.60.

R.C. §2953.52 states that an individual may seek expungement of criminal charges that were dismissed, charges where the individual was found not guilty by a judge or jury or a Grand Jury investigation that was No Billed (meaning no action taken).

R.C. §109.60 states that an individual who is arrested, fingerprinted but never charged, or the charges are dismissed, has the right to request their fingerprint records.  Specifically, R.C. §109.60(5) states in pertinent part, "If an accused is found not guilty of the offense charged or a nolle prosequi is entered in any case,...the fingerprints and description shall be given to the accused upon the accused's request."

In this situation, where a person has been arrested, but never charged, may seek an "Administrative Expungement" from Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification ("BCI").  BCI is Ohio's central repository for criminal justice information and all communication with the FBI is through BCI. In order to obtain an Administrative Expungement, BCI must receive a letter from either the Arresting Agency and/or the Court of Jurisdiction advising that no charges were filed against the individual following their arrest.

An individual filing an expungement application as a result of any of the above-listed dispositions, must meet certain eligibility requirements.  First, the individual may not have any criminal charges pending against them.  Second, if an expungement application is being filed as a result of a grand jury "No Bill" the individual must wait two (2) years after the date that the "No Bill" was reported to the court by the grand jury foreperson.

In response to an expungement application, the prosecution may at its discretion object to the expungement.  The court must then do each of the following, as described in R.C. §2953.52(B)(3)-(5):

(B)(3): If the court determines that the person was found not guilty inthe case, that the complaint, indictment, or information in the case was dismissed with prejudice, or that the complaint, indictment, or informationin the case was dismissed without prejudice and that the relevant statute of limitations has expired, the court shall issue an order to the superintendent of the bureau of criminal identification and investigation directing that the superintendent seal or cause to be sealed the officials records in the case.

(B)(4): If the court determines that the person was found not guilty in the case, the case was dismissed, or that a no bill was returned in the case and that the appropriate period of time has expired, that no criminal proceedings are pending against the person, and the interests of the person in having the records pertaining to the case sealed are not outweighed by any legitimate governmental needs to maintain such records, the court shall issue an order directing that all official records pertaining to the case be sealed and the proceedings in the case be deemed not to have occurred.

(B)(5): Any DNA specimens, records and/or profiles ordered to be sealed under this section shall not be sealed if the person with respect to whom the order applies is otherwise eligible to have DNA records or a DNA profile in the national DNA index system.

If you or someone who cares about you has any questions regarding eligibility to clean up a person's involvement with the Criminal Justice System, please contact Attorney Michael C. Hennenberg to schedule a consultation.

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