faqs record sealing vs expungement

Opportunity Port users must be seeking to seal or expunge an arrest, dismissal, or conviction in one of Ohio’s 88 counties. 

To receive free assistance with a criminal record sealing or expungement application, 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 for being connected with a legal service provider, and the legal assistance provided by our service providers is also free. 

If an application for sealing or expungement is prepared by legal help, the user may incur fees related to filing those applications.

Depending on the court, the filing fee and local court fee could be $50 to $100.

Thanks to the generosity of funds provided by Columbus City Council, filing fee and local court fees are covered for Franklin County residents seeking to seal or expunge criminal records in Franklin County, Ohio.

Opportunity Port’s service providers are the Legal Aid of Southeast and Central Ohio (Franklin and Tuscarawas County), the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Center (Franklin County)Equality Ohio (Franklin County), and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (all counties)

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

Please note that providers offer different levels of service and may have income requirements and county residence requirements to qualify for assistance.

Record sealing and expungement laws are tricky! That’s why Opportunity Port was created – to connect people with legal help so that prospective applicants can more easily understand the laws and apply for record relief.

To start the record sealing and expungement application assistance process through Opportunity Port, complete the online survey.

If you wish to read more about record sealing and expungement in Ohio, you can check out our page containing information from the Ohio Justice & Policy Center.

Disclaimer: Opportunity Port is not a law firm, therefore the information shared on our website about record sealing and expungement is not legal advice.

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

“Sealing” and “expungement” are words that certain jurisdictions sometimes use interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A granted expungement deletes and destroys a record and treats it as if it never occurred—sealing does not do this. 

Opportunity Port’s service providers determine whether a user is eligible for record sealing or expungement based on the user’s case history and current laws. 

If a user is eligible, a service provider will complete a record sealing or expungement application for submission to the court. 

If a user is NOT eligible, the service provider will discuss next steps with the user. It’s important to note that these steps will look different for every user depending on their circumstances.

“Sealing” and “expungement” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Sealing a record makes it more private so the public cannot see it. However, a sealed record can be seen by employers, officials, and agencies if you:

  • Apply for jobs in certain industries (like law enforcement or childcare)
  • Apply for certain professional licenses (like accounting or dental)
  • Are a suspect in a new criminal investigation (prosecutors, judges and police would therefore have access)

Ohio law is unclear how cases will be treated once expunged and what effect an expungement will have if granted. In general, expunged records are more private than sealed records.

If you don’t know the specific details about your record, select as your answer “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure,” or type “I’m not sure,” if more information is requested. After you finish the survey and connect with a service provider, they will assist you with finding information about your record. However, any details you can provide, such as year, level of offense, or charges will be helpful to the service provider.

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 the online 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.
The program manager may use deidentified demographic information internally for research purposes and to make improvements to Opportunity Port’s services.
There will be no personal identification of individual users in any publication resulting from research or program improvement activities.