ANSWER: Having a felony on your record can make life tough, as your family member is finding out. It s great that he s going to college, and that might cause prospective employers to overlook his felony, but it s probably always going to be a major hurdle for him as long as it s on his record.
Your family member should look into getting his record sealed. This extremely powerful procedure causes all public records about the conviction to be closed forever except to various law enforcement entities and the courts. The idea is to give people a second chance so one mistake doesn t disrupt the rest of their lives.
There s a big hitch, though. The law allowing one s criminal record to be sealed is very restrictive. Most people are knocked out of contention because the law only allows first offenders to be eligible. In other words, the person can t have been convicted of any other crimes before or after the conviction he s trying to seal. An exception to that rule would be if the person has multiple convictions stemming from the same indictment, guilty plea, or related criminal acts within a limited time period.
The law also bars people convicted of certain types of crimes from getting their records sealed. Sex offenses, drunk driving, and certain crimes of violence are examples of violations that can t be sealed.
People seeking to have their records sealed must file a motion with the court. Clerks offices typically have forms people can fill out on their own or they can consult an attorney who handles criminal matters. Felons must wait for three years after the final resolution of their case, which includes any probation or parole, while those convicted of a misdemeanor must wait one year.
The prosecutor s office must receive a copy of the motion so the state can have input. The judge will set the matter for a hearing and have a record check completed to see if the person is eligible. At the hearing, the judge will rule after hearing from the person seeking to have the record sealed as well as the prosecutor.
One other possibility exists for people who aren t eligible to have their records sealed, but it s a long shot. People with criminal records can petition the governor for a pardon or executive clemency. Those seeking a pardon must apply through the state s parole board, which examines the facts and makes a recommendation to the governor. The granting of a pardon is a rarity, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Web site. But if the person has a compelling case and all other avenues are closed, I suppose it would be worth a shot.
Dale Emch practices law at the Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC, in Toledo. In his column, he will discuss general legal principles and answer readers questions. Neither Mr. Emch nor The Blade present or intend his column to be taken as legal advice. Readers seeking legal advice should consult with an attorney. Readers should send their questions to Mr. Emch at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dale Emch, 405 Madison Ave., Suite 1200, Toledo, OH 43604.