faqs record sealing vs expungement

Opportunity Port users must be seeking to seal their criminal record from an arrest, dismissal, or conviction in Franklin County, Ohio. This website connects applicants with free criminal record sealing assistance from attorneys. We designed the intake form in order to help determine your eligibility. So by answering its questions honestly, we can better serve you.
When you’re ready to begin, click ‘Get Started.’

However, for those looking for expungement, please see the question, “What’s the difference between expungement and record sealing?”

Opportunity Port works with three Central Ohio legal assistance organizations: Legal Aid Society of Columbus, the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center, and Equality Ohio. To start, you will answer some basic questions and create a profile. After this is done, you’ll choose which organization you want to work with to complete your record sealing application. Each organization has income requirements for service. If the organization you choose is unable to help due to your income or household size, they will work with you to find affordable legal help.

  • Legal Aid Society of Columbus

     is Central Ohio’s oldest and largest legal services organization. Their mission is to combat injustice and help people rise out of poverty by providing high quality legal representation.

  • The Self Help Resource Center

    is a free center that helps the public navigate the court system. They provide legal information including court forms, tools to help you complete court forms, and answers to general questions about court procedures.

  • The Equality Ohio Legal Clinic

    provides direct legal representation to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community of Ohio.

If you work with Legal Aid or Equality Ohio, a representative will reach out to you within 24-48 business hours. If you work with the Self Help Resource Center, you may visit their office anytime between 9 am and 2:30 pm Monday through Friday. You may also speak with staff online through their webchat.

Criminal records are publicly available information, unless they are expunged or sealed. Record sealing removes criminal records from the public record. Sealed records will not show up on background checks for apartments and most jobs. However, with expungement, the criminal record is completely removed from court records. In fact, no one has access to expunged records, not even police or public defenders. In the state of Ohio, only juvenile offenders and victims of human trafficking can have their records expunged.

After the Court seals your record, the general public cannot access it. Only particular individuals may access records for certain reasons. For instance, a prosecutor can view it if you’re charged with a new crime. Or as another example, an employer can see it if you want to work in healthcare or with children.

Select either “I’m not sure/I don’t know”  if you don’t know the specific details about your record. Or, simply type “I don’t know” if prompted for a longer response. After you finish the survey and connect with legal help, they will assist you with finding information about your record.

Opportunity Port does not charge its users. Additionally, the legal partners that help our users are free to those who fit income guidelines. Much like income requirements help determine public benefits eligibility or public housing vouchers, our legal services partners also use similar guidelines to determine whether or not they can serve a client for free.

The attorneys who work for the legal partner organization you choose will be able to see your information. Additionally, the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center staff will have access to it. No one else outside of these entities will be able to view your information.

Privacy is important to us. When you submit information via Opportunity Port’s intake form, Opportunity Port’s legal aid partners will be able to access it. This is so they may better assist you with the record sealing application process.
We will also use demographic information internally for research purposes and to make improvements to Opportunity Port’s services. Additionally, there will be no personal identification in any publication resulting from research or service improvement activities.

Opportunity Port is not a law firm, and thus does not provide legal advice. However, our legal partners help applicants determine whether or not they are eligible for record sealing or expungement based on the applicant’s case history and current laws. So if an applicant is eligible, a legal partner will complete a record sealing application for submission to the court. But, if a legal partner determines an applicant is not eligible, they will discuss next steps with the applicant. It’s important to note that these steps will look different for every applicant.