On October 29th, 2018, a new law became effective. This law allows people to apply for an expungement and to have up to 5 fourth- or fifth-degree felonies and unlimited misdemeanors sealed permanently or expunged. The inspiration behind the new law is to give non-violent criminals with multiple offenses a second chance at having more options and opportunities for a good career. Often when an individual has a good job at an organization and opportunities for advancement, he or she is invested and focused on a bright future instead of pursuing any criminal activity. With the law in place, many have been given a second chance and more are seeking the chance to have a bright future.

The sealing of a record is a legal process that allows an individual to have any and all public references to a prior criminal record cleared and their court file sealed. An expungement deletes any record of an arrest or that any criminal charge ever happened. Once a record has been sealed or expunged, the individual would not have to admit to any past crimes on a job application. It would be as if the convictions never happened and the public would no longer have access to court information. The information would not be included in the information retrieved from the pre-employment screening giving the candidate a fair chance at being considered for his or her desired position evening the playing field.

The unemployment rate for the formerly incarcerated is estimated to be more than twenty-seven percent. This rate is higher than the U.S. unemployment rate. Although, this law has established a chance for an individual to make a fresh start, as a legal authority judges are given the challenging responsibility to review multiple cases before deciding if sealing a record outweighs the potential risk to the community. In addition, anyone seeking to have their record sealed has to go through a waiting period and cannot have any pending criminal activity awaiting trial.

Since the new law has gone into effect it presents the chance to break down barriers and give an individual an opportunity to rebound from a criminal past. A criminal record will show up on a background screening and can deny various opportunities unless action is taken to seal the record. Sealing a criminal record, even a dismissed charge, is valuable in many ways. The impact of this law will be life changing in the long-run opening doors for better opportunities.

References: Ohio Expungement Law, News 5 Cleveland