After Your Conviction is Expunged: What if it’s Still Showing up?

Say you’re convicted of theft in 2005 and it is expunged in 2007. Then you graduated from nursing school in 2008, sat for Ohio State Board, and received a license. Everything should be fine right?

Some have found it very difficult to obtain or maintain a professional job because their “sealed” record is still showing up on a background check.

First, it’s important to note that a sealed record can take several months for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations to process. Nothing can be done about that. But if the sealed convicted is still being disseminated there are issues that need to be dealt with.

Next, it is important to make the distinction between sealing a record and expunging a record. The words “sealing” and “expungement” are used interchangeably by many but they have very different effects and meanings. Expunging a record is usually only available to juveniles. If a charge is expunged it means that all records related to it are destroyed and irretrievable. If a charge is sealed, that simply means it is sealed from public view. This is what happens to adult convictions. Prosecutors, judges, and the attorney general’s office can still usually see the conviction. However, it is a misdemeanor for any government agency to disclose a sealed record.

Therefore, employers should not be able to see your sealed conviction. Many professions, including attorneys and nurses, have to disclose sealed convictions during the licensing process. However, now that you’re past that, your sealed conviction should not come up at all in the employment process.

Depending on why the conviction is still an issue for you will dictate the course of action you need to take. If the charge is showing up on a background check, you need to send a copy of the judgment entry to the offending party. Common culprits are credit reporting agencies, background check websites, etc. If the charge is showing up via government related search to private companies, e.g. a hospital checking your background and BCI responding you have a conviction, the offending government party may need kindly reminded that dissemination is a crime in most instances (and of course you need to confirm a government agency is the culprit before making accusations). For the record, government agencies are well aware of this so it’s unlikely they are the culprit.

Ohio law is clear that once a conviction is sealed, it is deemed never to have occurred for the purposes of employment. You should not be having these problems. I suggest paying a private investigator to run a background check to see where and why the sealed conviction is still showing up. If it is a private website or organization that is simply unaware of the sealing, fixing the problem may be as simple as sending them a copy of the judge’s order sealing your conviction.