As a result of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of our fellow Ohioans are unemployed. For queer people who have been involved with the criminal justice system, it may be even more difficult now to find a decent job that pays a liveable wage or to secure safe housing. Fortunately, there are legal processes available that can remove criminal convictions and dismissals from public view.
The processes are known as expungement or record sealing. A criminal expungement involves the destruction of records of a previous crime. Unfortunately, it is only available in three very limited circumstances: an obscure firearm conviction, juvenile convictions, and convictions for victims of human trafficking. The exceptions provided to victims of human trafficking are quite broad. Victims with an underlying conviction of solicitation, loitering for solicitation, and/or prostitution are able to expunge nearly any conviction except for aggravated murder, murder, or rape.
Most Ohioans with criminal convictions are not eligible for an expungement. They are instead eligible for criminal record sealing. Record sealing generally hides records from public view, making past records only viewable in very limited circumstances by certain agencies and organizations. A successful record sealing applicant can generally answer “no” to questions regarding convictions, charges, or arrests. In most circumstances, these previous convictions are treated as if they did not happen. Given the eligibility rules, you should consider asking an attorney to review your criminal justice record to see if you can apply.
Equality Ohio Legal Clinic is free for LGBTQ Ohioans up to 300% of the federal poverty level. Give us a call at 855-LGBT-LAW, or schedule a free, virtual intake right now.