Sealing Your Adult Criminal Record on Your Own
Convictions and Non-Convictions
Application Instructions for Sealing and Expunging Your Criminal Record
If you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed and/or expunged, you must file applications. The applications and procedures differ depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony.
The Hamilton County Clerk of Courts is responsible for maintaining all the files for every case. To complete the paperwork, you will need to have your social security number, along with the following information, which can be obtained from the Clerk of Courts.
- The case numbers of every conviction and non-conviction on your record;
- The name (e.g. drug possession, theft, assault) of each of your offenses;
- The date of conviction, dismissal; acquittal or date your case was ignored by the grand jury (no bill); and
- The date you completed your entire sentence (jail/prison or probation/parole completed, fines paid).
The paperwork is also available on the Clerk of Courts website. Note that there is $50.00 fee for filing an application to seal or expunge a conviction record. Filing an application to seal a record of an acquittal, dismissal or ignored charge is free. If you cannot afford the fee, you may be able to have the fee waived. Complete the Affidavit of Indigency and file it with the rest of the paperwork. The judge will review your affidavit, and if the judge concludes that you cannot afford the application fee, the fee will be waived.
Misdemeanor applications should be filed in Room 117 at the Hamilton County Justice Center, located at 1000 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Applications for felony charges should be filed in Room 315 of the Hamilton County Courthouse, located at 1000 Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. In the case of a misdemeanor application, you will be given a hearing date immediately upon the filing of your application. For felony applications, you will be notified of your scheduled court date.
You must appear in court on the date of your hearing. Arrive promptly and dress nicely. If you don‘t show up, your application for record sealing or expungement will almost certainly be denied. At the hearing, the judge will listen to your reasons for requesting that your record be sealed or expunged and will listen to any objection from the prosecutor. The court will follow the strict eligibility rules and decide whether to grant your request. The judge usually decides whether or not to seal or expunge your record at the hearing. If the judge grants your application, congratulations! You’re on your way to a fresh start! If your application was denied and you don’t understand why, please contact our office.
It often takes at least six weeks for the court, police, and other agencies to seal or expunge all the records pertaining to your case. After that point, your conviction, acquittal, or dismissal should no longer appear when a potential employer, landlord, or anyone in the general public runs a check of your criminal history. You can legally say on job and housing applications that you have not been convicted of the sealed or expunged crimes.