Mark K. McCown: Reader wants charges erased from record

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was wondering, how does a person get his record expunged?

I have a couple of things on my record from when I did some stupid things after I was out of high school, and I was wondering if I could get them off my record.

I’ve always heard you could, but nobody seems to know how it is done.

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Can you help me out? — OLDER AND WISER

Dear Older: Well, I can help you as far as telling you how an expungement is done, but it may be that you can’t get your specific record expunged.

An expungement is merely the sealing of your conviction and court record by the court that convicted you of an offense.

An adult can get his criminal record sealed in only three instances: 1) he did a bond forfeiture by agreement with the prosecutor rather than actually being convicted of the offense, 2) he is a first offender, or 3) he was acquitted by the court or jury.

In a voluntary bond forfeiture situation, there is a plea agreement between the prosecutor and defendant where the defendant pleads not guilty, posts his bond, and then doesn’t show to fight the charges or change his plea.

In a first offender situation, the individual can only get the record sealed if he has been convicted of only one offense, or multiple offenses arising out of the same incident (for example, he was cited for speeding and weaving at the same time).

In order to get the records sealed, you have to apply to the court of the offense no soon than one year after you are off probation if it was a misdemeanor, and no sooner than three years if it was a felony.

The court will look at several factors.

That includes your record, whether you have been “rehabilitated,” whether the benefit of sealing is outweighed by the government’s need to maintain those records, and also will listen to the opinion of the prosecutor.

If the court does seal the records, the offense is deemed not to have occurred.

It should be noted that the legislature has by statute disallowed certain crimes from being expunged.

Also, the legislature has put in a special provision that if a person is convicted of D.U.I. and anything else, even if it arises out of the same incident, he cannot get the other offense expunged.

Thought for the Week: Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. – George Bernard Shaw.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.