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How to Get a Felony Off Your Record in Ohio

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A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in Ohio, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record.  Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take.  1) Expunge Your Record 2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your RecordThe problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what Ohio offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.


If you get your record expunged in Ohio it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.

Record Sealing

Sealing your record in Ohio is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.


If you receive a pardon in Ohio, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.


Things to Know Before You Start

First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in Ohio.

Felony Expungement in Ohio

Yes, it is possible to expunge your felony in Ohio but it depends on the felony.

Sealing a Record in Ohio

Yes, it is possible to seal your record in Ohio but it depends on the felony.

Getting a Pardon in Ohio

Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in Ohio but it depends on the felony.

Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options.  The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.  

Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action.  We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process.  Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again.  In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think.  The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing off your record.

Can You Expunge a Felony in Ohio?

Unfortunately, Ohio does not allow for the expungement of adult criminal convictions; the records cannot be completely destroyed.

Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in Ohio?

Only specific records can be sealed in Ohio. The following convictions cannot be sealed in Ohio: any offense with a mandatory prison term, and any ‘offense of violence’.


Less than three years. You may not apply to have your felony record sealed, until three years have passed, after your final discharge. First or second degree felonies. Any first or second degree felony cannot be sealed. Convictions with specifications are never eligible to be sealed. Note: To see a list of adult convictions offenses that cannot be sealed, look here.

How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Ohio

Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to seal your record. If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you. If you are not eligible to seal your record based on our test, then you should stop here. If you are eligible to seal your record based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading. To obtain the proper form for sealing your criminal record go here. Steps to seal your felony record in Ohio:

Step 1. Apply at the court of conviction using the court’s form.
• Applications vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and sometimes there will even be different forms for convictions and non convictions, so it is crucial to use the proper form.

Step 2 Pay a filing fee for convictions (non convictions should be free).
• Should be $50, but some courts charge as much as $300

Step 3. Provide as much detail and supporting documentation about the ways you bettered yourself since the conviction or non-conviction.

Step 4. Attend a hearing before the original judge on the case.
• Some courts will conduct hearings that require a personal appearance; others do not.

Can You Apply for a Pardon in Ohio?


Pre-convictionThe Governor can only grant a pardon to you after you have been convicted.
• If your case was dismissed or you are still being charged or tried for the particular crime, then you are not eligible to apply for a pardon.Out-of-state convictionThe Governor can only grant a pardon for an Ohio State conviction.

How to Apply for a Pardon in Ohio

• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record.  In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you. 
• If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here. 
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• Only your or your legal representative can apply for clemency.

To obtain an Application for Executive Clemency(2 pages) and the Application Instructions (4 pages) you may download this document as a PDF file from this site.

Steps to apply for a pardon in Ohio

Step 1. Fill out the application.
• You will be asked basic information such as your name, any aliases you’ve ever used, your date of birth, marital status, and the type of clemency you are seeking (pardon, commutation, or reprieve).

Step 2. You will be asked to list information about each conviction for which you are seeking a pardon.
• For each conviction, you will need to know the city or county you were convicted in, the case number, the name of the offense, the date you were convicted, and the date you were sentenced.
• If you are missing information about any particular conviction, you should contact the law enforcement agency involved in the case and/or the court where you were convicted.
• Additionally, for each of those convictions, the Board requires that you provide copies of:
• The indictment or bill of information; AND
• The judgment entry of conviction and sentence.
• You should be able to obtain both of those things from the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted. The court will typically charge a small fee for this service.

Step 3. You will also be asked to list all of your arrests, even if they did not result in a conviction.
• Include all arrests—state and federal.
• You will need to know the county where you were arrested, the case number, the offense, the date convicted (if applicable), and the sentence (if applicable).
• Again, you can obtain this information from the law enforcement agency and/or the court where you were charged/convicted.
• If you do not remember all of your arrests and convictions, you may need to obtain your criminal history report from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation.

Step 4. You will also be asked to explain why you are seeking clemency (pardon).
• This is perhaps the most important section of your application. We highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement.
• In your personal statement, do not simply say you want a clean criminal record.
• Tell the Parole Board/Governor how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family.
• For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing your family and you an adequate standard of living.
• Submit any proof you may have (such as denial letters) to support your claims.
• If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them.
• If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity.
• If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms.
• Also indicate in your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc.
• Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character.
• Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would you.
• In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Parole Board/Governor will not be retrying you for the offense.
• Although you may want to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt.
• However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty.
• The Parole Board/Governor is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.

Step 5. We also suggest that you submit a few letters of recommendation from credible people (such as your boss) who know you well and can say good things about you.
• These letters should indicate to what extent the writer knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon.
• The letters should also indicate the writer’s contact information for verification purposes. If possible, you should choose individuals who are not related to you, in order to avoid the appearance of bias.
• These letters must be sent along with your application or they will not be considered.

Step 6. Your application form must be notarized, which means it must be signed in front of a notary public.
• You can find a notary public in most banks.
• They may charge a small fee, usually depending on whether you have an account with that particular bank.
• If you have an attorney prepare the form for you, the attorney must also sign and date the application.

Step 7. You will need to submit two copies of your application (both notarized) and two copies of everything else (documents, letters, etc.) to the Parole Board.
• You should also keep a copy of everything you send for your records. Your completed application, along with all supporting documents and letters, should be mailed to: Ohio Parole BoardClemency Section770 West Broad StreetColumbus, Ohio 43222

Step 8. Once the Parole Board receives your application, it will conduct a thorough investigation into your application.
• As part of the investigation, the Parole Board may look at any pre-sentencing reports and other background information about you.
• A Parole Officer may even contact you to conduct an interview or ask you to complete a questionnaire.
• You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board at all times.

Step 9. Once investigation is complete, the Parole Board will vote whether to hold a hearing on your application. If a majority of the Parole Board votes to hold a hearing, you will be notified of the date and time of the hearing so that you can attend.

Step 10. You should attend the hearing, even if the Parole Board says you are not required to.
• If possible, have friends, family members, your pastor, a neighbor, a church member, your employer, co-workers, and others in your community be there to support you.
• After the hearing (or after the review stage, if no hearing is held), the Parole Board will submit its recommendation to the Governor to either grant or deny your application, together with a brief statement of the facts, the reasons for the recommendation, and other relevant information.

So, there you have it.  Three separate ways to get rid of your record in Ohio.  As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.

Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational.  If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.

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