FAQS

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. 

To connect with free criminal record sealing assistance from local legal aid organizations, a user must first complete the Opportunity Port survey. 

When you’re ready to begin, click here to complete the Opportunity Port survey.

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.

Opportunity Port’s service providers consist of four Central Ohio organizations: Legal Aid Society of Columbus, the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and Equality Ohio

At the end of the Opportunity Port survey, you can choose which service provider you want to work with to complete your record sealing application. 

Some of our providers have 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.

  • Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center  is housed at The Ohio State University and provides free assistance to record sealing applicants through Opportunity Port.

  • The Equality Ohio Legal Clinic

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

Record sealing is tricky! That’s why Opportunity Port was created – to connect people with legal help so that they can more easily understand the laws and get legal advice as to whether or not they are eligible.

To start the record sealing process through Opportunity Port, complete the online survey.

If you wish to read more about record sealing, you can check out the Ohio Justice & Policy Center’s guide and FAQ page. (Reminder: Opportunity Port is not a law firm, therefore the information shared here about record sealing is not legal advice.)

A representative from the service provider you select to work with will reach out via phone or email within 24-48 hours to confirm your interest in receiving assistance and provide next steps.

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.

Opportunity Port is not a law firm, and thus does not provide legal advice. However, our service providers 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 service provider will complete a record sealing application for submission to the court. If a service provider 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

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 a service provider, they will assist you with finding information about your record.

The attorneys who work for the service provider you choose will be able to see your information. Additionally, the program manager of Opportunity Port will have access to your information. No one else outside of the program or service providers will be able to view your information.

Privacy is important to us. When you submit information via Opportunity Port’s survey, Opportunity Port’s service providers 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.