Application for Record Sealing and Driver's License Reinstatement Assistance
This application is for low-income residents in Cuyahoga County who need help sealing a criminal record or understanding eligibility for Ohio's new driver license program to reduce or eliminate reinstatement fees. The Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry will accept applications through this portal on an ongoing basis. The Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office will coordinate with other partners to provide legal services, including Case Western Reserve University Law School's Second Chance Clinic, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Pardon, Clemency and Expungement Clinic.
The Public Defender’s Office Handles Felony Expungements in Cuyahoga County
Old criminal records impose a terrible burden on individuals who have otherwise turned their lives around. Approximately 1 out of every 6 Ohioans have a felony or misdemeanor record. And there are approximately 850 laws and administrative rules that limit job opportunities for Ohioans with prior convictions. According to a recent study conducted by the Ohio Justice & Policy center, restrictions on employment based upon prior convictions cost individuals an estimated $3.4 billion in lost wages in 2017. Criminal records also severely impact an individual’s ability to obtain affordable housing.
The Public Defender’s Office works to mitigate the negative impacts of a criminal record by helping individuals seal their felony records in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. If you are eligible to get your record sealed and cannot afford to hire your own attorney, the Cuyahoga County Public Defender, Office’s Appellate Division, may be able to assist you with sealing (often called “expunging”) a criminal record from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
A person’s ability to seal a criminal conviction is determined by statute and depends on several factors including:
- the type and offense level of the conviction sought to be sealed (not all convictions can be sealed);
- the completion of the sentence (including payment of all fines and restitution);
- the time that has elapsed since completion of your sentence; and,
- the entire criminal record of the applicant.
- In particular, you cannot seal any conviction unless you have satisfied the entire sentence (including full payment of fines and restitution) or if you have any pending criminal cases (even misdemeanors).
- A person’s ability to seal an arrest record in a case that was dismissed, no billed, or the subject of a not guilty verdict is more expansive. Although there are some limitations on timing or present eligibility (if, for instance, you have a pending criminal case), cases involving dismissed (no billed or not guilty verdicts) can generally be sealed regardless of the type of offense.
- A person’s eligibility to have his or her record sealed is only the first hurdle in getting a record sealed.
Submitting your application
The Public Defender’s office will do a preliminary assessment of your eligibility for expungement and a preliminary look of your criminal record using the information that you provide. They are not a law enforcement agency; and cannot run a full background check. Therefore, it is very important that the information you provide is accurate.
Please complete all fields accurately and in their entirety.
Agree to terms of submitting application
By submitting this request for assistance, I agree that the Office of Reentry, the Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office, Case Western Reserve University Law School's Second Chance Clinic, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Pardon, Clemency and Expungement Clinic can share information about my application with each other, evaluate my eligibility for assistance, and review my background, including, but not limited to, looking up Ohio BMV driving record, contacting court clerks and/or probation departments to verify payment of costs, fees, and restitution.
The Public Defender’s office will notify you if they are able to assist you. If you appear to be eligible, they will tell you what the next steps are. If you are not, they will explain some alternative options. Even if you are eligible to have your record sealed, the State has the right to oppose the sealing of the record and the judge has discretion on whether or not to seal the record.
* Because there are so many considerations involved in a decision to file an application for expungement, the Public Defender cannot tell you right away if you are eligible and whether the Office will represent you. *
After submitting your application, you should expect to hear from the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s office within 4 weeks about whether they are going to file to seal your record. There are, however, several other steps in the expungement process and, from start to finish, that process usually takes 6 to 8 months.
In addition to the attorneys, the following staff help facilitate the record sealing process:
Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office Expungement Staff: 216-443-7580
Katie Wingle: 216-443-3657, email@example.com