Interstate Complications with Expungement
Interviewer: Do expungement rules differ from state to state?
Adam Hunt: They do, and one of the biggest things that you have to look at are instances, as opposed to number of charges or the number of convictions.
Interviewer: Right. If I have a previous crime from another state that’s expunge-able but now I live in this state, what am I supposed to do with that? Am I supposed to go back to my previous state and get it expunged there? How does that work?
Adam Hunt: More than likely they’re going to have to go back there, but again, it might be an issue of consulting with somebody locally in Ohio to understand how to resolve it in the other state and just associating with the local counsel in whatever state the issue happened.
Interviewer: Have you ever had clients call you with an incident in another state to assist them with expungement?
Adam Hunt: There have been people that were incarcerated and have had to have other issues resolved in this state, whether it be an open warrant or something that is open that would prevent them from being released from incarceration in the other state. That is one of the most common. Sometimes it’s even the expungement; individuals have moved to another state, they didn’t address simple issues, and all of a sudden there’s a warrant out there that needs to be addressed. It could be something as simple as a traffic violation. I have had people contact me as far away as Florida to resolve the issue and they don’t want to appear up here because it’s just a minor level issue. It can be done, again, by the plea in absentia or other forms that allow me to operate on their behalf.
Changes in Ohio Law
Interviewer: Do you think that in Ohio there’s any sort of change that occurred with DUI, for instance?Would someone be able to go back to a case where they weren’t previously able to expunge it and now have the opportunity to do that for whatever reason?Do you speculate something like that may ever happen?
Adam Hunt: There’s been an increase in the number that they allow for expungements – not necessarily related to the OVI, but there has been an increase in the number of issues that an individual can go back and expunge where they couldn’t even two years ago.I can’t remember exactly when the law changed but it has changed to allow for more issues to be expunged.
Interviewer: They’re kind of opening the doors a little bit for some people to get some previous crimes expunged. Is that what you’re saying?
Adam Hunt: Right, and typically the biggest reason why they did that is because a lot of people were convicted on non-violent crimes that have changed what the sentence would be if they were no longer felonies.Now we give them the opportunity for treatment in lieu of conviction. Three years ago we would have thrown a first time offender in prison for possession of cocaine, heroin, or something like that.Now we wouldn’t do that to a first time offender. We’re going to give them treatment as opposed to sending them to prison because there’s overpopulation in prison and we just don’t have the resources to fund that. We’re looking for alternatives.
There’s a look back on what the issue was?As long as it was non-violent, they could have more issues in their background that would allow them still to get the expungement because of that.
Interviewer: Are we talking about more along the lines of drug charges?
Adam Hunt: Mostly. Mostly it’s going to be non-violent offenders. They’ve opened the door to the number of issues that can be expunged and it’s going to be a combination depending on how many charges are there in a single incident and then what the nature of those charges was.They’ve opened the door just to let the individual have an opportunity for employment especially.I think that’s the big thing. Today we wouldn’t send them to prison so I think that was the thinking behind the legislation on that.
Interviewer: Yeah, otherwise, we have nobody able to work because of minor drugs and that’s not really good for the economy.That being said, if someone were to have found employment somewhere and let’s say they had to give up a career and start working somewhere else and they’d be doing that for the past three years, should they look into giving a lawyer a call?Could they call you, for instance, and say, “Hey, I want to check if anything’s changed with the law. Is there anything any way now that I can get something expunged whereas I wasn’t able to do that several years ago?”Would you recommend that to someone?Could you be able to do that?
Adam Hunt: I would say they should definitely consider it, especially since there have been substantial changes.
Interviewer: I could just imagine that this has affected a lot of people and a lot of people may not even be aware of this.
Adam Hunt: No, they probably aren’t.There are individuals that are still alive but may be getting up there in age or they may have some terminal disease, and it might be something as simple as just wanting to be able to meet your maker with a clear conscience.Before, the event was not expunge-able, but now it is, so they might want to look into it and if they just want that peace of mind and a clear conscience.
By Adam Hunt