Past mistakes can stay with people for a long time. If someone is applying for a job, or a license, or a right or privilege, they will probably need to submit to a criminal background check. That background check will show all of a person’s unsealed criminal history.
In some cases, a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court can apply to the sentencing judge to seal the official records of the case that pertain to the conviction. That means that it should not show up on a background check.
Not just anyone can have their records sealed. The person applying to have records sealed must be an “eligible offender”, meaning that they have no more than one felony conviction, or no more than two misdemeanor convictions, or no more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction.
When two or more convictions result from the same act or from offenses committed at the same time, they only count as one conviction in determining eligibility.
A conviction for a minor misdemeanor or for a violation of most traffic offenses (except OVI, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under an OVI suspension and a few others) are not considered convictions in determining eligibility to seal records of conviction.
Some convictions cannot be sealed under any circumstances. They include convictions for sex offenses, traffic offenses, most violent misdemeanors of the first degree, and offenses which are misdemeanors of the first degree and the victim was under 18 years old.
If a person is eligible and the conviction is one that can be sealed, the person may apply for the sealing of the record of the case after one year of his or her final discharge if convicted of a misdemeanor. The application must be filed in the office of the clerk of court, at which time a filing fee of $50.00 must be paid unless the applicant is has little or no money (also known as indigent).
When the application is filed the court will schedule a hearing and notify the prosecutor of the hearing. The prosecutor can argue against the application by filing an objection with the court before the date of the hearing.