Some offenses can be removed from record

Cody Francis

A misdemeanor crime committed while in college could come back to haunt students while on the job hunt.

“Students need to be aware of the expungement process,” said Carol Crimi, senior staff attorney for Student Legal Services. “I’ve heard many stories where people could not get jobs because of something on their permanent records. If you qualify, you should make the effort to have your records sealed.”

Sealing of records, or expungement, is the process of removing common offenses from permanent records. Many crimes college students commit can be expunged.

Common “first offense” crimes ineligible for expungement

&bull All traffic offenses, including DUI.

&bull Drag racing.

&bull Hit and Skip (also known as “hit and run”).

&bull Master key sale or possession.

&bull Motor vehicle concealed identity.

Common “first offense” crimes eligible for expungement

&bull Underage drinking

&bull Possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.

&bull Possession of drug paraphernalia.

&bull Minor misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

&bull Most first through fourth degree and minor misdemeanor offenses.

Who can file?

Most of the time a student who is a first offender, a person who has no previous or subsequent record of conviction, is eligible to file.

“First offenders can have a record of one conviction and only that one conviction,” Crimi said. “It’s kind of like one strike and you’re out.”

Jamison Offineer, paralegal and office administrator for SLS, said there are exceptions to this rule. A person arrested for two or three charges from the same event may be considered a first offender, even with more than one conviction on his or her record.

An example would be a student who gets charged with underage drinking and disorderly conduct on the same night.

“It’s a matter of time and logical connection,” Offineer said. “Every case is different and there is a lot of discretion with judges.”

If a student thinks he or she qualifies under this category, he or she may apply to the court for first offender status.

When can an application for expungement be filed?

Felonies can be expunged three years after the completion of a sentence and misdemeanors can be expunged one year after, Crimi said.

In the event that a case is dismissed, the person can make a case for expungement immediately.

Crimi also said students should allow at least two months for the expungement process to take place.

“If you are about to graduate, you should definitely make sure you come in a couple months before to make sure it gets done,” she said.

Kent State programs

Kent State offers a diversion program for first time offenders. The program entails the student to pay a fine and serve a small sentence, such as community service, in return for his or her case being dismissed.

“What happens is the offense is still on record until successful completion of the program,” Crimi said. “If the person does not offend for six months, then the record should be sealed.”

She said even though the case is supposed to be sealed automatically after completion of the program, students should go to the Portage County government Web site to check his or her records to make sure they are sealed.

“They should be, but sometimes they may get looked over,” Crimi said.

Matt Radigan, police support services manager for the Kent State University Police Department, said the diversion program is a great opportunity that Kent State students should take advantage of.

“It’s a great chance to have the charges dismissed,” Radigan said. “So seemingly it never happened.”

Can it ever be brought up again?

There are a few circumstances when a sealed record can be opened. Radigan said in some cases where a person is charged with a similar offense it can be considered.

Crimi said some employers are able to look at the information.

“Some licensing authorities are able to see,” she said. “Educators, nurses, architects, accountants, anyone who applies to the state licensing board.”

Contact safety reporter Cody Francis at [email protected].