Ohio R.C. 2953.38
Survivors of trafficking in Ohio may petition to expunge a wide range of records, following a conviction for a prostitution-related offense. If a survivor has been convicted of soliciting, loitering, or prostitution, they can then apply to expunge the record of that and any other conviction, except for aggravated murder, murder, or rape. Survivors must demonstrate that these offenses were committed as a result of being a victim of trafficking.
Unfortunately, a hearing is always required in Ohio. Prosecutors are permitted to raise objections before trial, but the court can grant relief in spite of these objections. Also, survivors must pay a filing fee of $50 unless they can show they cannot afford it.
If the court expunges a conviction, the criminal proceedings are considered not to have occurred. The record of the conviction shall not be used for any purpose, including, but not limited to, a criminal records check. Survivors who have had convictions expunged can answer that no record exists if asked.
Survivors with convictions in Franklin County (Columbus, OH) may self-petition for relief by using the “Record Sealing” application on the Municipal Court website. Many survivors have had great success through this process, but it is not recommended for everyone. It is important to understand your entire criminal record before applying and whether you will qualify. Please reach out to the Survivor Reentry Project to discuss your eligibility and reference the “Can I seal my criminal record?” PDF (created by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center).
SB183 (pending) would remove the predicate offense mandate for trafficking-related expungement and open expungement to all survivors of human trafficking. If you are in Ohio, please let your representative know that you support this much-needed legislation.
Updated Oct 2021