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Expungement, Wrongful Conviction, CQEs and CAEs in Ohio: Expunging Juvenile Records

Juvenile records are not criminal records, and juveniles do not receive criminal convictions. Instead, juveniles who break the law are referred to as adjudicated delinquents. In fact, when a person with only a juvenile record is asked whether he/she has been convicted of a crime, the legally correct answer is ―No.

Who can access juvenile records? Since juvenile records are not public information, they are not supposed to appear on most background checks. Until recently, however, BCI was reporting all juvenile adjudications that would have been a felony if committed by an adult. Under Senate Bill 337, however, BCI is now only allowed to disclose juvenile records for aggravated murder, murder, and any registration-eligible sex offense (as defined by Revised Code § 2950.01). Other juvenile records should not appear on a check from the Clerk of Courts, a sheriff‘s check, or on private background checks. However, violent offenses and offenses that would have been a felony if committed by an adult will be accessible in a few cases. This includes background checks for jobs in hospitals, schools, daycares, security, and others. Also, juvenile records are available to the police, courts and prosecutors.

Unlike for adult criminal records, sealing a juvenile record is not the same as expunging it. Sealed records are removed from the person‘s main criminal history file and secured in a separate file accessible only to police, courts and prosecutors. Sealed juvenile records will not appear on any background checks for employment or housing. Juvenile justice records are not automatically sealed at 18 years of age. A person may apply to seal a juvenile record 6 months after the final discharge of the offense (i.e., termination of probation), even if the person is still a juvenile. To seal a juvenile record, obtain and submit the appropriate forms at the Juvenile Clerk of Courts Office. In Franklin County, contact the Juvenile Prosecutor's Office, 614.525.3555 for information on getting your juvenile records sealed or expunged. There is no filing fee for sealing juvenile records. The applicant may be required to attend a hearing to determine whether the record can be sealed. Any outstanding court fees from the original case must be paid before the court will consider your juvenile-record-sealing request. To decide whether a record will be sealed, the court considers: age at time of offense, nature of offense, continued problems with the law, as well as other factors.

An expunged juvenile record is totally destroyed, in physical and electronic forms, so that the record is permanently irretrievable. A juvenile record can be expunged any time after it is sealed. If a person does not apply for expungement after sealing a juvenile record, expungement will occur automatically 5 years after the record was sealed or when the person is 23 years old (whichever happens first).