How to Expunge my Public Records in Ohio

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To delete a public record means to destroy and erase it in such a way that it becomes permanently irretrievable. People seek to delete their public records in Ohio to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. Typically, a record is no longer accessible to anyone once deleted. However, there are exceptions for the Ohio Bureau of Identification,  law enforcement, clerk of courts, and licensing agencies, under limited situations. Besides government agencies in Ohio, a host of independent parties also maintain some public records. Generally, most persons would consider obtaining records from third-party vendors before they think of any government repository. It, therefore, means that a person's public information can easily be purchased with little effort. Anyone who obtains such a record can use it for any purpose, including harming its subject.

To delete a public record in Ohio, the person named on such a record should visit their County Clerk and seek permission to view their public record. Once the clerk grants such allowance, they can the following questions:

  • What information can be modified or removed?
  • Which documents can bear a mailing address rather than a home address

What is a Public Record in Ohio?

A public record in Ohio is any record maintained by a public office unless it is identified as exempt under the Ohio Public Records Act. In Ohio, the term public office includes state, city, county, township, village, and school district units. Inspection of a broad number of public records in Ohio is a statutory right of anyone. Persons interested in inspecting public records are not required to reveal their identities or state the intended use of the records. Nonetheless, requesters can voluntarily discuss their purpose of requests if it will assist the record custodians in finding the requesters' records of interest. Requesters can apply through written letters, by phone, e-mail, or in person. Public records in Ohio are made public to ensure transparency and assure the general public that public documents belong to them, not the government body keeping them.

In Ohio, public records include any item, document, or device, notwithstanding its physical form. Provided such documents are generated or collected by or happened under the jurisdiction of any public office in Ohio, they are termed public records. However, not all information contained in a public record is subject to disclosure under the Ohio Public Records Act. Usually, certain personally identifiable information of enrolled students and trade secrets are not disclosed. Similarly, social security numbers are always removed from public records before releasing them. In Ohio, public records include the following:

  • Arrest records
  • Criminal records
  • Court records
  • Vital records
  • Bankruptcies and Liens
  • Property records

In Ohio, the subject of a public record collected and maintained by any public body who wishes to restrict public access to their record may do so. Such a person can consider record expungement or record sealing.

Does Ohio allow Expungement?

Yes. Ohio law allows the expungement of some records. Generally, expungement is the process of destroying a record. Typically, the court does not disclose expunged records, but some situations may require the court to release them when needed. Also, a person or an entity may be authorized to access them. Most people ask for an expungement when they have been denied a professional license, housing, or job because of adverse reports in their background checks. Effective October 2018, the Ohio Senate Bill 66 expands the number of offenses eligible for expungement. The bill is currently the largest expansion in the history of the Ohio Expungement Statute.

How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Ohio

Each Ohio Court has its procedures for making and filing for expungement. Ohio criminal record expungement is only available in limited situations to eligible offenders under the Ohio’s Revised Code Section 2953.31. An offender must have met the waiting period requirements since the date of conviction to be considered eligible for Ohio criminal record expungement. Following conviction, the waiting period starts after payment of fines and completion of any probationary period. In Ohio, waiting periods are determined by the nature of offenders' sentences as specified below:

  • Misdemeanors require a one-year waiting period.
  • A single felony conviction needs a three-year waiting period.
  • Two felony convictions require a four-year waiting period.
  • Three to five felony convictions need a five-year waiting time.

Additionally, offenders are eligible for Ohio criminal records expungement if they fulfill at the minimum, one of the following criteria:

  • Charged with crimes but were never convicted
  • Have not more than five non-violent and non-sexually oriented felony convictions. Such felonies must be of the fourth or fifth degree and must not involve a minor
  • Have misdemeanors convictions that are not first-degree domestic violence
  • Have misdemeanor and felony convictions combined

To expunge an Ohio criminal record, the offender is required to apply to the court where their conviction took place. Typically, for felony offenses, an offender should make their application to the Court of Common Pleas in the county of conviction. If it is a misdemeanor, an application for expungement should be made to the County or Municipal Court where the offender was charged ab initio.

Once the court receives an offender application for criminal record expungement, it will review the petition and verify that there are no ongoing proceedings against the offender. The court will equally confirm to ensure that the offender's crime is eligible for expungement. If the prosecution objects to such a petition, the offender may respond to the objection with proof of behavioral changes. During the hearing, the offender or their attorney will again argue before the judge. Afterward, the judge will decide on the petition. The judge will issue an order to expunge the offender's criminal record if the application is granted. It will also notify all Ohio government bodies holding the offender's conviction record to expunge it immediately.

Will my Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Ohio?

In Ohio, an expungement record does not show up on a background check. A background check is a way of investigating a person's history. It is usually conducted by any business or agency that has access to an individual's record. Most background checks include criminal records, employment history, and credit history. If a criminal record expungement shows up on a background check, the subject may be denied school admission, housing, employment, and some government benefits. However, employers must not obtain non-FCRA compliant background checks on potential job candidates from third-party sources.

How to Seal a Record in Ohio

A sealed record is not publicly available and can open up new opportunities for its subject. If a record is sealed, its subject does not have to disclose their arrest, conviction, or any charges against them. Most persons with criminal convictions in Ohio are not eligible for expungement but can apply to seal their criminal records.  Typically, record sealing in Ohio keeps records away from public pry. The subject of a sealed record can deny ever being arrested or convicted if asked. In most cases, once a persons' record is sealed, past convictions are treated as if they never happened.

In Ohio, a person who meets the following requirements is eligible for record sealing:

  • A person who has not been subjected to a compulsory prison term for their offense
  • Someone whose conviction is the first and only one
  • A person who was convicted of a misdemeanor more than one year has passed since their final discharge or three years for a felony
  • A person who has no pending charges

To seal a record in Ohio, a person must obtain a copy of their final conviction order from the Clerk of Court's criminal division. Specifically, such a person should provide their case number and request a certified copy of their Judgment Order of Conviction. Obtaining this usually costs a small fee. Typically, the applicant will complete the Judgement Entry for Sealing and the Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record forms. The information provided must, however, be accurate. The applicant should make at least three copies of all documents and file them with the Clerk of Courts in the county where the conviction took place. After all these, the court will fix a court date for the hearing.

The applicant must be able to convince the judge of their remorse and inform the court they desire to seal their record. If the court grants such an application, the applicant's record of interest will be sealed. Record sealing, including Ohio arrest record sealing, provides people the following benefits:

  • Becoming eligible for housing assistance
  • Getting access to student loans
  • A person whose record is sealed can inform employers that they have not been convicted of a criminal offense
  • Becoming eligible for professional certificates and licenses
  • With a sealed record, a person will usually have nothing to worry about when it comes to conducting background checks

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Ohio?

In limited circumstances, Ohio law permits certain agencies and persons to see sealed records. Generally, most landlords and employers are not allowed to access sealed records, but there are exceptions. In Ohio, certain types of employment require access to their prospective employees' sealed records. Such employers include financial institutions, law enforcement, correctional facilities, and employers that provide minor children, older adults, and direct patient services. Additionally, the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation, Ohio Courts, and Ohio licensing agencies can see sealed records.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Ohio

Bankruptcy is a legal process in which a person who cannot pay their bills or debts can achieve a new financial start. In Ohio, filing bankruptcy stops all creditors from collecting debts, at least until all debts are settled according to the law. Typically, bankruptcy can do the following:

  • Stop foreclosure on a person's house and provide them the opportunity to catch up on missed payments. It, however, does not eliminate mortgages.
  • Prevent the termination of an individual's utility service
  • Prevent the repossession of a property by a creditor.
  • Discharges a person the legal responsibility of paying all or most of their debt.

In Ohio, bankruptcy appears on the credit report of the person who files it for some years. The process of deleting bankruptcy records in Ohio is a difficult one. Typically, a person's legitimate bankruptcy public record is deleted from their credit report after some years, depending on the bankruptcy chapter filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a partial repayment and is deleted seven years from the filing date. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is deleted after ten years but does not require any payment.

A person with an erroneous bankruptcy record on their credit report can dispute it and have it deleted. To do this, the person should first ask the court if the bankruptcy was verified with the credit bureaus. In most cases, the court will say they did not and then issue a letter in that regard. The affected person may proceed to write a letter to the credit bureaus and demand that they immediately delete such a bankruptcy record. Credit bureaus will not hesitate to remove an inaccurate credit report because it is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). However, note that this process can be time-consuming and difficult.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Ohio?

Currently, Ohio has over 25 consumer protection laws. Chief of these laws is the Consumer Sales Practices Acts (CSPA) and the Credit Card Recording Act (CCRA). The CSPA protects Ohio consumers from deceptive and unfair sales practices regarding their transactions. A consumer transaction involves the purchase and solicitation for the purchase of a product or service. The CSPA permits a consumer to pursue private litigation against a supplier. It also allows the cancellation of transactions or recovery of damages after a successful lawsuit against a supplier.

The Consumer Sales Protection Acts require a supplier to do the following during transactions:

  • Not deceive consumers
  • Honor warranties and guarantees
  • Represent information about a product or service accurately
  • Reveal the limitations of a product or service during advertisements

The Ohio Credit Card Recording Act prohibits suppliers from disclosing consumers' credit card account numbers, expiration dates, and social security numbers. It generally forbids sellers from giving out consumers' personal financial information. Disclosing such information can lead to consumers' financial losses.

How to Delete Lien Records in Ohio

A lien is a legal claim which a person or entity makes on another person's property who owes money. Succinctly put, it is a claim by a creditor on a debtor's property. In Ohio, a lien is a matter of public record filed with the county recorder's office or a state agency. When a creditor puts a lien on a creditor's property, such a property becomes the security for the debt.

The simplest way any person can delete their lien in Ohio is to pay off their owed debt. A person whose property has a lien can pay off the full amount or negotiate a lower amount with the creditor. Once the debt is paid, the debtor should complete a release of lien form and ask the creditor or lienholder to sign it in the presence of a notary. Afterward, the debtor can file the release of lien form at their county recorder's office.

To find out if there is a lien on a property in Ohio, a person must have the name of the property owner and know the property address. If this is known, such a person can contact a title company to help with the search. Alternatively, an individual can search the county recorder, assessor, or clerk's office website or visit their office in person.

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