Expungements in Ohio are available to more people due to the expansion of the expungement eligibility requirements. Under the old law, a “first offender” was defined as a person with only one conviction on their record. The new law expanded the definition of “first offender” to an "eligible offender." An eligible offender is someone that “has not more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions if the convictions are not of the same offense, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction.” Minor misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses were not, and still are not, considered convictions when considering eligibility for expungement. Expungement can also be referred to as “sealing a conviction.”
The Ohio Legislature reduces felony sentences for a number of offenses. After years of increasing and imposing mandatory sentences, the Ohio Legislature has pulled back their efforts in order to focus on treatment and rehabilitation and reduce prison crowding. One convicted of a fourth or fifth degree felony cannot be sent to prison unless certain criteria are met. The maximum sentence for many third degree felonies have been reduced from five to three years.
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