Ohio law defines a first offender as any person convicted of an offense in Ohio without having any previous convictions in any jurisdiction, in Ohio or otherwise. The Ohio First Time Offender Act provides that a first-time offender may apply for a record expungement after the completion of an ordered sentence. Qualifying sentences include a jail term, a period of probation and/or imposed fines or restitution.
Detailed Definition of First Time Offender
Ohio Revised Code 2953.31(a) further explains that if an offender receives two or more convictions as a result of a single offense or offenses committed at the same time, it is considered one conviction when qualifying for expungement. Further, if an offender has two or three convictions from the same indictment or multiple convictions from related criminal acts committed over a three-month period, these related convictions will also be considered one.
If convicted of a felony, an Ohio first-time offender must wait until three years after the completion of a judge-ordered sentence before qualifying for expungement. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the waiting period is one year.
Ohio law lists the following convictions as those qualifying for first-time offender record expungement: street racing; stopping on and off public roads after accidents; failure to stop after accidents, selling or possessing a vehicle master key; vehicle identity illegalities; driving under a suspended or revoked license; driving under a vehicle operation suspension; or for a violation of an equivalent former state law or municipal ordinance.
According to Ohio law, the following situations will disqualify a first-time offender from applying for expungement: ordered prison terms; first- or second-degree felony convictions; specified sex offense convictions; specified license, traffic and motor vehicle crime convictions; specified violence convictions; child endangerment; prostitution and public indecency convictions; and traffic bail forfeiture convictions.
The final decision to grant a record expungement is up to the sentencing judge.