Ohio Court Records
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Are Criminal Records Public In Ohio?
Yes, with the exemption of sealed and restricted records, criminal records are open to the public in Ohio, as provided in the state’s Open Records Act. This statute allows eligible people to view, inspect, and obtain copies of documents that contain the criminal history of individuals from the public agencies who have custody of such records. Eligible persons may include the owner of the record, members of the public, employers, journalists, law enforcement agents, and other personnel of the state.
The three major government agencies who keep criminal records and those who can obtain them are:
- Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI): This office serves as the central repository for criminal records in Ohio. BCI maintains a computerized criminal history that can only be obtained by the subject, authorized people with signed consent, or a minor’s parents or legal guardian.
- Sheriff offices: Members of the public can obtain arrest and criminal records at county levels by contacting the sheriff offices or local police departments.
- Courts: Members of the public can obtain conviction records from courts in Ohio. Conviction records in Ohio are court records because these are the judgment arising from trials or court proceedings.
Additional resources can be obtained from:
- Department of Rehabilitation and Correction: This department maintains inmate and jail records, records on sex offenders, and warrants on parole violators. They are available to the public except those released to the department of youth services or a court of record.
- Department of Youth Services: Maintains records on minors and these are restricted to only those with legitimate or direct claims.
- Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Maintains records of vehicular crimes like DUIs or OVIs.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Ohio?
Criminal records in the state of Ohio contain a summary of an individual’s criminal activity history, including details of arrests and convictions. Also known as a rap sheet, a criminal record is generated and maintained by public bodies that help keep law and order in the state like local or state law enforcement or investigation agencies.
Ohio criminal records cover an array of details which usually includes:
- Full names of the offender
- Known aliases of the offender
- Race and ethnicity
- Physical description and definite or unique descriptors (height, weight, tattoos, birthmark, etc.)
- Photograph (mugshot) and fingerprints
- Arrest records
- Pending or finalized dispositions
- Prior and current indictments
- Conviction information (nature of the crime, class of charges, sentence, conviction)
Information that is exempt from disclosure includes:
- Law enforcement investigative reports
- DNA records
- Medical records
- Personal information like date of birth, social security number, or address
- Parole of probation records
How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Ohio?
Interested persons can request to review or receive copies of criminal history records in-person, via mail or online, depending on the custodian. Obtaining a conviction record from Ohio courts or arrest history information from sheriff offices simply involves presenting necessary information of the individual or case and paying the required fees. However, the procedure to obtain a statewide criminal record is a little different.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is mandated by law to gather records from all law enforcement agencies and government bodies that maintain certain criminal information. The office only grants record access to authorized persons, including the individuals mentioned in the record and certain public agencies. Procedure for obtaining criminal records from BCI involves:
- Complete record application forms
- Submit the full name or alias of the individual of the required record
- Submit the physical characteristics and current address of the individual
- Submit a fingerprint set of the individual. WebCheck can help find the nearest location where to roll fingerprints at each county.
- If the record is on self, submit photocopies of valid photo identification.
- Third-party requests require the submission of signed consent from the person mentioned in the record.
- Payment of $22.00 process fee, payable to the “Treasurer of State of Ohio” via money order, business check, or electronic payment
All necessary documents and payment may be sent to county offices or the main branch;
1560 State Route 56 SouthWest
P. O. Box 365
London, Ohio 43140
Toll-free: 855-BCI-OHIO (855–224–6446)
Phone: 740- 845–2000
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Ohio?
Eligible applicants who wish to obtain criminal records for free can do so in two ways; by finding information for free online or have fees waived by the custodian. Free online information may be obtainable from websites, directories, databases of custodians, and third-party vendors. Although there are no statutory provisions for fee waivers in Ohio, fees can be reduced or waived by individual custodians on an ad hoc basis. Occasionally, eligible persons may be charged no fees under the following conditions.
- Requested records required minimal stress and a number of pages.
- The requester has been proven to be unable to afford the charges.
- Requester only needs to inspect an electronic copy of the record
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved; this includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused at.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Search Criminal Records Online In Ohio?
Searches for conviction or criminal court records can be done online through the Supreme Court of Ohio and Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER),, an electronic public access service. Name searches can also be made through the directories, web portals, and online databases maintained by custodians at the state or county level.
It should be noted that criminal information obtained online may not be thorough and cannot serve as valid substitutes for official background checks or certified copies of criminal records. However, online searches can be done to determine if a particular court or criminal record is available or accessible by the public.
How Long Does A Dui Stay On My Criminal Record In Ohio?
DUI offenses are called OVI or operating a vehicle while under the influence (of alcohol or drugs) in Ohio. OVI offenses are serious crimes and will remain on an individual’s record forever unless sealed or expunged. It should be noted that the waiting period on these offenses only applies to points dropping after a specified period but not to the offense being removed from the criminal record.
OVIs can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the degree of intoxication, the gravity of damages or injuries, and prior offenses. For instance, while first offenses often carry the least penalties and fines, second offenses that occur within six years will lead to aggravated sentences that may include minor jail terms from 60 days to 30 months. However, the fourth conviction within ten years and sixth conviction within 20 years can be classified as felonies with higher fines and jail terms.
Convictions of OVIs that fall under misdemeanors or felonies cannot be expunged under the Ohio expungement law. However, dismissed charges and acquitted cases can be expunged or sealed from public view.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged Or Sealed In Ohio?
Under Ohio’s expungement law, the terms “expunge” and “seal” are used interchangeably to refer to the removal of records from public view. It should be noted such criminal records are not destroyed. Only juvenile records are entirely removed from the law enforcement database.
According to Ohio Expungement Laws, expungement or sealing of criminal records is available to eligible persons who have fulfilled certain conditions and committed certain crimes. Eligible offenders under the new expungement law include:
- Persons whose charges have been dismissed, who were acquitted or never charged with a crime
- Juvenile offenders of crimes excluding rape and murder
- Persons who committed offenses not classified as first, second, or third-degree felonies
- Persons who were convicted of a majority of five crimes classified as fourth or fifth-degree felonies; these crimes must be non-violent, non-sexual and must not relate to a minor. Also, multiple charges under the same case can be categorized as one conviction.
- Persons convicted of an unlimited number of non-violent and non-sexual misdemeanors that do not relate to minors; such offenders must not have prior felonies records (prior traffic offenses do not matter).
- Persons convicted of one felony and one or two misdemeanors (prior traffic offenses do not matter)
These eligible offenders can only file a motion for expungement or sealing after serving out all penalties, satisfying parole or probation requirements, and waiting for the required “expiration” period without committing subsequent crimes. Waiting period for record expungement in Ohio depends on the categories and number of convictions, namely;
- Non-conviction: Application can be made immediately after dismissal or acquittal
- Unlimited misdemeanors: Requesters must wait for one year from the date of satisfying all sentence conditions.
- Single felonies: Persons can apply after three years from the date of fulfilling all penalties.
- Two felonies: Requesters can apply after four years from the date of completing sentences and other conditions.
- Three to five felonies: Application for expungement can be made after a waiting period of five years.
Individuals applying for the expungement or sealing of criminal records will have to petition the court where the charge was filed. Requests to expunge felony records should be made to the Court of Common Pleas, while requests to expunge misdemeanors records should be made to the Municipal or County Court.
The process of sealing the records typically includes:
- Completing the application form for sealing or expungement
- Payment of the application fee of $50.00
- Filing the motion at the court
An expungement hearing will be scheduled by the court. Hearing schedules differ between courts but may occur within two weeks to two months. Decisions are made on the same day of the hearing, and a court order to expunge is given for successful application. The order is forwarded to all law enforcement agencies to seal/expunge such criminal records. This process takes 30 days to six weeks.
How To Expunge Juvenile Records In Ohio
Only juvenile records can be destroyed in Ohio. This excludes records of certain violent crimes like murder or rape. To expunge juvenile records in Ohio, the record must first be sealed either automatically or by applying to the court and obtaining the court order.
Records that are automatically sealed include:
- Arrest records with no complaints or charges filed
- Charges of underage alcohol consumption when the offender completes the diversion program
- Dismissed charges and ruling or adjudication of the offender as an “unruly child”
Sealed juvenile records are expunged automatically five years after they are sealed. However, individuals can apply for early expungement. If the individual is a minor, this can be done after 6 months after the case is concluded or at any time if the individual is up to 18 years old and all penalties have been completed.
The process for expunging juvenile records is the same as the process of expunging the records i.e. filling and submitting forms, paying fees, holding hearings, and receiving the judge’s decision.
Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In Ohio?
Once a criminal record is sealed in Ohio, all electronic and physical copies of the record will be separated or removed from public access. The criminal record still exists but cannot be viewed by most people except for the following parties:
- The subject of the record
- Those with the signed consent of the individual mentioned in the record
- Legal representatives, attorneys, judges, and prosecutors
- Law enforcement agents for criminal investigations
- Certain employers in law enforcement, health care, education, and some financial or real-estate institutions
- Professional licensing boards in the state (including the board of psychology, board of nursing, medical boards, dental board, accountancy board, and so on.)
Apart from these eligible parties, interested persons can also file a petition to make some records open to the public or accessible for legitimate use.
On the other hand, once a juvenile record is expunged, no one can view it’s content as it is destroyed and no longer exists. Individuals with expunged juvenile records can also deny having any juvenile record.