What are some of the key provisions to Senate Bill 288?
Senate Bill 288 tweaks many parts of the criminal code, and tackles both the state's court and incarceration system. On January 3rd, 2023 Ohio Governor Mike Dewine signed Senate Bill 288 (“SB 288”) into law. One important provision of this bill is to strengthen the existing "Driving while Texting" law under section 4511.204 of the Ohio Revised Code. Under the previous laws, distracted driving was a primary offense only for juvenile drivers. This new law designates the use of cellphones - to include merely holding the device - and other electronic wireless communications devices while driving a primary offense for all drivers and allows law enforcement to pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation.
Senate Bill 288 also Expands Convictions That Can Be Sealed And Includes Provisions To Fully Expunge Records.
Ohioans have previously been able to apply to seal their records, but not completely expunge them. “Sealing” means that records are kept private with very limited exceptions. Expungement means that the record is completely destroyed.
The following provisions went into effect on April 6, 2023:
Up to two (2) felonies of the third degree and a variety of felonies of the fourth and fifth degrees and misdemeanors can apply for sealing.
Bail forfeiture can be sealed at the time of forfeiture.
The following still cannot be sealed: first- or second-degree felonies, violent offenses, most sexual offenses, domestic violence (including strangulation, a new offense), violations of protective orders, traffic offenses, and most offenses where the victim was under 13 years of age.
Applications to expunge can be filed:
Six (6) months after a minor misdemeanor is discharged;
One (1) year after a misdemeanor is discharged;
Ten (10) years after felonies are sealed:
fourth- or fifth-degree felonies would be able to apply 11 years after conviction;
third-degree felony offenders could apply 11 years after conviction.
Prosecutors and city law directors can expunge low-level marijuana possession offenses, such as minor misdemeanors and up to fourth degree misdemeanors.
Judges must set a hearing not less than 45 days and not more than 90 days after an application for sealing or expungement.
Tier 1 Registered sex offenders can apply to have records sealed starting five (5) years after a court determines they no longer have to register as a sex offender. The following caveats apply:
The offense must be a third-degree felony or lower;
Only those with Tier I sex offender registration requirements are eligible;
The offense cannot be deemed an offense of violence;
The victim of the offense cannot be 13 years of age or younger.
Based on the above parameters, as well facts specific to each individual case, it may be possible to apply to seal the following offenses if the victim is over the age of 13: O.R.C. § 2907.06 (Sexual Imposition); O.R.C. § 2907.07 (Importuning); O.R.C. § 2907.08 (Voyeurism); O.R.C. §2907.09 (Public Indecency); O.R.C. § 2907.22-25 (various Prostitution codes); and O.R.C. § 2907.25 (Pandering Obscenity).
See Ohio Revised Code Section 2953.32, Effective April 6, 2023.
Call us at 937-224-1212 to discuss if Senate Bill 288 will play a role in your case.