Sean O’Brien, Michael Rulli introduce expungement bill

Expands the types of crimes eligible to be erased

WARREN — A bill introduced Monday in the state Senate would make it easier for some convicts in Ohio to erase their criminal record.

The proposal expands the type of crimes eligible for expungement to offenses greater than fourth- and fifth-degree felonies and misdemeanors, which is all that is eligible now to be wiped clean in Ohio, but there remain carve outs for the worst crimes.

The legislation would not impact Ohio’s existing expungement waiting periods of three, four and five years for felonies or one year for a misdemeanor conviction, but adds certain crimes of violence to the eligibility list like assault, which is not eligible for expungement now, and adds waiting periods for the crimes previously excluded, said co-sponsor Sean J. O’Brien.

Ohio law bans crimes of violence of felony sex offenses from being expunged.

The waiting periods in the proposal are are 20 years for a first-degree felony, 15 years for a second-degree felony or 10 years for third-, fourth- or fifth-degree felonies. To be eligible, a person could not be convicted of other offenses during those periods of time.

The bill excludes murder, voluntary manslaughter, child abuse, patient abuse, kidnapping, human trafficking, terrorism, domestic violence and sexually based offenses.

Prosecutors could object to an application. Also, judges considering the requests would be required to consider the entirety of the offender’s conduct since the last conviction.

“We all know someone who, at age 19 or 20, made one bad decision and was convicted of a crime. But with no further missteps, that person has had to deal with long-term consequences like the inability to get particular jobs or attain certain public benefits,” said O’Brien, D-Bazetta. “This bill gives a second chance to folks who made a stupid decision many years ago, but have otherwise lived honest, law-abiding lives.”

Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli of Salem is the other co-sponsor. “This isn’t a partisan issue — it is about allowing people to advance their lives with dignity,” Rulli said.

The legislation was introduced Monday and is waiting to be assigned to a committee for debate.