Soon the governor in Ohio will receive legislation that awaits a signature. Signing it could result in expunging large numbers of offenses for drug possession from the records of many Ohio citizens.
This proposal came about after the mayor of Cleveland announced his plans in April. According to his announcement, he intended to expunge over 4,000 convictions that were for marijuana possession. However, the mayor later found that he could not do this due to a legal blockage at the state level.
As a result, the mayor worked on a state proposal with a state senator. The proposal would give cities and prosecutors the authority to apply for individual expungement. Many individuals with minor drug offenses often do not know how to expunge their records or lack sufficient funds to hire an attorney. In response to these struggles, the mayor and state senator wanted to remove some barriers preventing these individuals from obtaining a job or education.
The state legislature passed the bill in December. It would allow the city law director or a county prosecutor to expunge minor misdemeanors or fourth-degree drug offenses in the court that issued the original sentence. However, both the victim and the offender must receive notification and a chance to object. The new law would apply to individuals convicted of possessing an amount of marijuana under 200 grams.
According to a DeWine spokesman, the governor intends to sign the bill, which both chambers of the state’s general assembly passed. It contains an extensive overhaul of the criminal justice laws in the state. For example, it will deal with sealing criminal records, easing penalties for underage drinking and others, and sentence reductions. In addition, the legislation, which the chambers included in Senate Bill 288, would give more individuals a chance to clear their name and obtain stable housing and better jobs.
The expungement for marijuana offenses comes when many believe marijuana use should be legal. Should the governor sign and enact the bill, applications for expungement would become valid six months after the final action of the minor misdemeanor.
The bill would go into effect ninety days after getting signed into law. With the governor stating the intent to sign, employers should start looking into their hiring policies to ensure they will comply with the new law.
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