Criminal Sealing Eligibility Interview and Action Plan

This interview will help you determine if you are eligible to seal your criminal record in Ohio. If you are eligible, at the end you will get a list of your individual charges, if they can be sealed and links to your next steps.

You will need to: 

  • Register for a My OLH account. Registering will allow you to save and complete this form on your own schedule.  
  • Enter your information completely and correctly. 
  • Pace yourself and take breaks. All the information you fill out will be saved. You can click "Save & Exit" and return to complete your form.   
  • Download or email your completed action plan.
  • Follow the instructions on the action plan. You will need to file an application for record sealing in each court where you have a charge that is eligible for sealing.

If possible, use a computer so that you can easily download your action plan or email it to yourself.

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Before You Get Started

Learn what you will need to fill out this form.
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Before you start this interview, you need to look up your entire criminal record. 

If you have charges in different courts, this will involve going to the Clerk of Court's website for each court where you have been charged and searching their case records. 

Read more for detailed instructions on looking up and understanding your criminal record in Ohio.

After You Finish

Learn what to do when you have finished filling out this form.
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Completing the application

If you are eligible to seal your records, you will need to get the sealing application forms from the court where you were charged. Check the court's website for the forms, or call the Clerk of Court's office to ask where you can find them.

The court may have different packets to seal convictions and non-convictions, so make sure that you're filling out the right ones. Ask the court how many copies of the form they want you to file, and make at least one extra copy of the form so you can keep one for your records.

Carefully read the form and any instructions. Some courts require you to "serve," or send the forms to the prosecutor's office. Some courts will serve the prosecutor's office for you. Read the form carefully and complete all the steps included on the form.  

Take the completed form to the Clerk's office at the court where the charge was filed. 

When you apply to seal a conviction, you will be charged a filing fee. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you can use the "Poverty Affidavit" form to request to file without paying the fee upfront. There is never a fee to seal a record of not guilty, dismissed or "no bill" charges.

Attend the hearing

After you file your application, the court will schedule a hearing date. You must go to your sealing hearing.

The court will notify the prosecutor's office that you applied for sealing and a hearing is scheduled. The prosecutor's office may file a response arguing against sealing your record. If you get notification from the court that the prosecutor has filed a response, it does not automatically mean that your case will not be sealed.

You must attend the hearing, where you and the prosecutor will present your sides. The judge or magistrate will make the final decision about sealing your record after listening to both you and the prosecutor. Learn more about how to prepare for a hearing here.

At the hearing, explain how your criminal record is hurting you. Examples of common problems your record might be giving you include making it hard to find a job or to find a place to live.

The judge has to decide whether you have been rehabilitated before sealing your record. If the prosecutor objects, the judge will also consider whether it is in the public interest for your record to be sealed. So, be prepared for the judge to ask you what you have been doing since you were charged or convicted and why you want your record sealed.

Show the judge that you have made changes in your life since your conviction. Give as many specific examples as you can. For instance, if you were convicted of a drug-related crime, you can mention if you have received any substance abuse treatment since your conviction or if you are involved with a substance abuse support group.

After the hearing

If the judge denies your application and you do not understand why, you may want to speak with a lawyer. 

If the judge approves your application, it can take at least six weeks for the court, police and other agencies to seal the record.

Talking to a lawyer

Many legal aids in Ohio offer record sealing clinics where you can talk to a pro bono lawyer about your charges and how to apply for sealing.

If your criminal record is keeping you from getting a professional certification (for example, people with certain convictions cannot obtain certain medical certifications in Ohio) legal aid may also be able to help you obtain a Certificate for Qualification of Employment (CQE). Read more about CQEs here.

The Ohio Justice and Policy Center also offer clinics and provides detailed information on sealing and other ways to overcome problems caused by criminal records on their website. These include options for survivors of human trafficking, people with juvenile records, CQEs and Governor's pardons.

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