The following is a video transcript.
Hi, it’s Wilkes Ellsworth, Independent Program Attorney for Ohio. Today, I’d like to talk to you about wiping clean a blemish or two Ohioans might have on their background that could interfere with their ability to carry firearms. Sometimes, mistakes in our past can have real effects on our here and now.
When I get calls on this subject, almost always, people say “expungement.” In Ohio it’s actually called “sealing,” and simply means those records that are sealed will not be available for viewing for most people to view such as: potential employers, landlords, and the general public. The sealed records are still accessible and are allowed to be used against you in certain circumstances. For example, if you were to get in trouble again, the judge and law enforcement would have access to them. If you wanted a job in law enforcement, the agency potentially hiring you would also have access. Or, if you are trying to get a professional license in the State from the medical board, they could also see them. But for most intents and purposes, the sealed records are hidden from view.
Recent changes in the law regarding sealing records has really opened up the availability in Ohio to get this kind of relief. I highly recommend requesting to get a record seal for anyone who has a criminal conviction hanging over them like a black cloud. It can clear the way for you to be able to not only carry firearms, but also get your concealed carry license, something you may not have been able to do before. Remember, questions six and seven on the application specifically state: “For the following questions, six, 7A, and 7B,” those about your prior criminal record, “do not include any conviction for which a court has ordered sealed or expunged or relative to which a court has granted relief from disability pursuant to ORC 2923.14.”
Now, the first thing you do, get a copy of your criminal record. This can be done at your local sheriff’s office, for instance.
Second, determine if you are eligible to have your records sealed. In order to be eligible to get a record sealed the charge must not be violent or sexual in nature and cannot be higher than an F4 or F5.
Finally, make sure you have waited the proper waiting period. Misdemeanors require a one-year waiting period. If you want to seal one F4 or F5 felony, there’s a three-year waiting period. Two F4 and F5 felonies require a four-year waiting period, and three-to-five F4 or F5 felonies require a five-year waiting period. You can get up to five F4 or F5 felonies sealed, and unlimited misdemeanors.
Eligibility is determined by a number of factors under Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code. To be eligible, the conviction must not be the kind that is precluded by law from getting expunged; the conviction cannot require a mandatory prison term; you cannot currently have any pending charges against you; and you cannot have a record of more than one felony or one misdemeanor conviction, two misdemeanor convictions, or one misdemeanor and one felony conviction. Remember, minor misdemeanors and most traffic offenses do not count as a conviction.
Now, sealing your record might not be only thing we need to do. In some instances, you may need to seek what’s called “relief from disability” under ORC 2923.14, if you have a disability due to certain kinds of convictions, and impose rights pursuant to 2923.13, which is the having weapons while under disability statute. This removes the restriction on firearms you may have and is done through a motion to the trial court where you are convicted. We just had an Ohio U.S. LawShield member go through this process. I asked him to keep me updated, and he did, with the final message he sent me being a picture of his newly-attained CCW license. It was a great success.
I know that was a lot of information and can be confusing, but the process is not as daunting as it may seem and is generally quite simple to do. You can always call U.S. LawShield and ask your Independent Program Attorney any questions you might have about this topic or any other. I look forward to speaking with you.
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