What Offenses and What Felonies Cannot Be Expunged in Ohio?

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Living with a criminal record can be like carrying a weight that impacts every aspect of your life. It can affect your job prospects, your ability to rent a house or even your chances of obtaining professional licensing. 

While the process of expunging your criminal records – effectively sealing them from public view – can be an avenue towards a fresh start, not all crimes can be expunged. So, what felonies cannot be expunged in Ohio? Let’s unravel the intricacies of Ohio’s expungement laws.

Do you have questions about your eligibility for expungement? Contact our experienced Ohio expungement lawyer at (440) 340-1740 to schedule your case evaluation so we can discuss your options. We defend good people accused of bad things.

What’s the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing the Record in Ohio?

In Ohio, the terms “expungement” and “sealing” are often used interchangeably in the context of clearing a criminal record. However, there is a slight distinction between the two processes.


Expungement refers to the legal process of completely erasing a criminal record from public view. When a record is expunged, it is as if the offense never occurred. The record is not only hidden from public access but is also destroyed or deleted from official databases. 

Expungement provides you with the opportunity for a fresh start, as your past conviction will no longer appear on background checks or other public record searches.


Sealing a record, on the other hand, means that the record is hidden from public view but not completely erased. While sealed records are not accessible to the general public, they may still be accessible to certain government agencies, law enforcement, or authorized individuals under specific circumstances.
Sealing a record can still provide significant benefits, as it limits public visibility and helps protect your privacy. However, the record remains in existence, albeit with restricted access.

What Are the Prohibited Offenses That Stay with You in Ohio?

Despite recent changes in Ohio law, certain criminal convictions leave a lasting mark on your record that can’t be erased. Here’s a snapshot of some offenses ineligible for sealing:

  • First or Second-Degree Felonies: These high-level offenses, including severe violent crimes or large-scale drug trafficking, are generally not eligible for expungement or sealing.
  • Violent Crimes: If a crime involves harm or threat of harm to another person, such as murder or aggravated assault, it cannot be sealed.
  • Sexual Offenses (if you are still under a duty to register as a sex offender): Certain sexual crimes, including sexual battery, rape, and gross sexual imposition, are ineligible for sealing.
  • Crimes Against Minors: Any offense where the victim was under 13 years old (except for non-support of dependents).
  • Domestic Violence Offense: Any domestic violence offense or violation of a protection order offense.
  • Traffic Offenses: Certain traffic offenses involving bail forfeiture are also non-sealable.

For example, suppose John Doe, an Ohio resident, was convicted of a second-degree felony for drug trafficking a decade ago. Despite his efforts to turn his life around, this conviction keeps haunting him, obstructing job opportunities. Unfortunately, as per Ohio’s expungement laws, John’s felony cannot be sealed due to its severity.

The Role of an Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer

Given the regular revisions and updates to state laws, it’s essential to have the experience and guidance of an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer, especially in light of recent changes in Ohio regarding the expungement and sealing of criminal records. 

If you are wondering how these new changes might affect you, let’s explore the significant role that an attorney can play in your expungement journey:

Case Review

A skilled criminal defense lawyer will conduct a comprehensive review of your case, examining the details of your offense, the circumstances surrounding it, and your overall criminal history. 

They will analyze any potential legal issues, evaluate your eligibility for expungement, and provide an honest assessment of your chances of success.

Expungement Eligibility Evaluation

Each expungement case is unique, and eligibility depends on various factors, such as the nature of the offense, waiting periods, and other specific requirements outlined in Ohio’s expungement laws. 

A knowledgeable attorney will evaluate your eligibility based on these criteria, determining if you meet the necessary conditions for expungement.

Strategy Development

Based on their experience and understanding of the expungement process, your attorney will develop a strategic plan tailored to your case. They will identify the strongest arguments and evidence to support your expungement request, positioning you for the best possible outcome. 

Their guidance and advice will ensure that you take the right steps to maximize your chances of success.

Motion Preparation and Filing

Expungement involves complex legal procedures and paperwork. Your attorney will prepare and file the necessary legal documents, including the motion for expungement, ensuring that all required forms are accurately completed, supporting evidence is presented effectively, and the filing deadlines are met. 

Negotiation and Advocacy

In some cases, objections may be raised by the prosecutor’s office or other parties involved in the expungement process. Your attorney will skillfully negotiate on your behalf, addressing any objections and advocating for your rights. 

Their skill and experience in legal arguments and negotiation tactics can help overcome obstacles and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Court Representation

If a court hearing is required, your attorney will represent you before the judge. They will present compelling arguments, supported by evidence and legal precedents, to persuade the court to grant your expungement request. 

Your attorney’s presence in the courtroom ensures that your case is presented professionally and effectively, increasing your chances of success.

Guidance and Support

Throughout the entire expungement process, an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer will provide you with guidance, support, and peace of mind. They will explain each step, answer your questions, and keep you informed about the progress of your case. 

Having a trusted legal professional by your side can alleviate stress and help you navigate the complexities of the process with confidence.

To wrap up, while some offenses and felonies cannot be expunged in Ohio, changes in the laws and the guidance of an experienced lawyer can present opportunities for record expungement. Remember, understanding your rights and the legal process is the first step toward reclaiming your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I apply for expungement if I have a prior expungement on my record?
A: Generally, if you have a prior expungement on your record, you may still be eligible for a subsequent expungement. However, there may be limitations depending on the number and type of prior expungements.
Q: Are there any fees involved in the expungement process?
A: Yes, there are court costs involved in filing an expungement application. The cost can vary by jurisdiction and depending on whether you hire an attorney.
Q: Can expunged records be accessed by employers or licensing agencies?
A: Generally, expunged records should not appear in standard background checks conducted by employers or licensing agencies. However, certain entities, such as law enforcement agencies or government organizations, may still have access to sealed or expunged records under specific circumstances.
Q: Can I expunge a felony conviction after completing my sentence?
A: Yes, certain felony convictions can be expunged in Ohio if you meet the eligibility criteria, including the completion of your sentence and the required waiting period.
Q: Is it possible to expunge federal felonies in Ohio?
A: Expunging federal offenses is more difficult than expunging state offenses, and it’s a matter of federal, not state law. Only under very limited circumstances can a federal felony be expunged.

Experience the Fortress Law Group Difference

At Fortress Law Group, we’re more than just “expungement attorneys near me.” We’re your local partners, dedicated to helping you close the chapter on past mistakes and start anew. 

Attorney Matthew Bangerter, a seasoned Ohio criminal defense attorney with valuable experience as a former Assistant Prosecutor in Lake County, Ohio, leads our team. This experience provides him with a unique insight into the other side’s strategies.

Don’t let a past mistake define your future. Reach out to us today and embark on your path to freedom. Contact us at (440) 340-1740 for a case evaluation so we can explore your options to see if you’re eligible for expungement. You can also fill out our online form here

At Fortress Law Group, we defend good people accused of bad things.