Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Expungement process eased

Sealing records takes less time

By Marie McCain mmccain@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Those who qualify to have first-time criminal offenses wiped from their records will undergo a new, streamlined process in Hamilton County that begins Aug. 1.

        County municipal judges approved the initiative after a review of Ohio's expungement law that went into effect more than two years ago.

        Under the new plan, the number of court hearings needed to determine if an applicant is eligible for an expungement will be decreased from four to two, said Municipal Judge Nadine Allen. The judges are hoping to educate the public about the process through Web sites and media.

        Expungements - erasing or sealing from public view court records, online databases and other information sources any history of a particular crime - are mainly granted to first-time offenders and to those who do not have serious drug- or violence-related convictions.

        They also are granted for people who have been acquitted. In the past year, those include former Cincinnati police officer Stephen Roach, accused in the April 2001 shooting death of an unarmed man, and Michael Wehrung, who was charged decades later in the 1963 beating death of his girlfriend in Greenhills.

        Judges in Hamilton County usually grant about 1,000 expungements a year.

        Information about the new procedures will be available on the Municipal Court Web site:

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