State v. A.S., C-220259

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Citation199 N.E.3d 994
Docket NumberC-220259
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. A.S., Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date28 October 2022

199 N.E.3d 994

STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
A.S., Defendant-Appellant.

NO. C-220259

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton County.

Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: October 28, 2022

Emily Smart Woerner, Interim City Solicitor, William T. Horsley, Chief Prosecuting Attorney, and Rebecca Barnett, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Krista Gieske, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.


Bergeron, Presiding Judge.

{¶1} In 2018, defendant-appellant A.S. entered a guilty plea to one count of misdemeanor theft. A few years later, in 2021, A.S. sought to seal the record of her conviction in order to facilitate educational and professional opportunities. Although the state did not object, the trial court refused to seal the record, relying on arguments

199 N.E.3d 996

the state never advanced and that run afoul of the record at hand. A.S. now appeals, asserting in her sole assignment of error that the trial court erred in finding that a governmental interest outweighed her interest in having the record sealed. We agree, reverse the judgment of the trial court, and remand this cause with instructions for the trial court to seal the record.


{¶2} In July 2018, A.S. was charged by criminal complaint with one count of petty theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02, a first-degree misdemeanor. Her only offense was switching the price tags on a comforter set at Target, designed to save herself a little money. In October 2018, after having found A.S. eligible for diversion, the trial court ordered her to participate for six months in the Hamilton County Diversion Program established in accordance with R.C. 2935.36. In conjunction with this order, A.S. entered a guilty plea to the theft offense as charged.

{¶3} In February 2019, on motion by the state, the trial court issued an entry reinstating A.S.’s case to the court's active docket following her failure to complete the diversion program. According to the court's entry, A.S. had failed to fulfill the following conditions of the program: attend an N.C.T.I. Critical Thinking Class by January 2019; pay an administrative fee of $133; complete 60 community-service hours; and attend monthly meetings. In August 2019, the trial court sentenced A.S. to a suspended 180-day jail term and six months of community control. Six months later, in February 2019, the trial court terminated A.S.’s community control.

{¶4} Three years after her offense, in July 2021, A.S. filed her first application to seal the record of her theft conviction. The trial court denied the request, but indicated that it might be open to further requests down the road. A.S. accordingly filed a second application to seal the record of her conviction in March 2022. This application, too, was denied by the trial court after a hearing. Although the state did not object to sealing the record, the trial court concluded that the government's interest in maintaining the record as public outweighed A.S.’s interest in sealing the record. This appeal followed.


{¶5} In her sole assignment of error, A.S. maintains that the trial court erred in denying her application to seal the record of her misdemeanor theft conviction. "In Ohio, sealing an individual's criminal record is an act of grace" created by the state. State v. R.S. , 1st Dist. Hamilton Nos. C-210169, C-210170, C-210171, C-210172, and C-210173, 2022-Ohio-1108, 2022 WL 985919, ¶ 10. "We review a trial court's decision to deny an application to seal records for an abuse of discretion." State v. McVean , 1st Dist. Hamilton Nos. C-210459 and C-210460, 2022-Ohio-2753, 2022 WL 3221970, ¶ 7, citing State v. Sager , 2019-Ohio-135, 131 N.E.3d 335, ¶ 9 (1st Dist.). We will thus not reverse the trial court's judgment unless the court has exercised its discretionary judgment over the matter in an unwarranted way or committed legal error. See Johnson v. Abdullah , 166 Ohio St.3d 427, 2021-Ohio-3304, 187 N.E.3d 463, ¶ 35.

{¶6} Under R.C. 2953.32, which governs a trial court's decision to grant or deny an application to seal a record of conviction, an "eligible offender" may apply to the sentencing court for the sealing of a criminal record. "A court may grant an application if the requirements identified by R.C. 2953.32(C)(1) are satisfied." R.S. at ¶ 10, citing Sager at ¶ 10. After determining whether the applicant is an

199 N.E.3d 997

eligible offender, R.C. 2953.32(C)(1) requires the trial court to make determinations, including whether criminal proceedings are pending against the applicant, whether the applicant has been rehabilitated, and whether the interests of the applicant in having his or her record sealed outweigh the legitimate needs, if any, of the government. "After weighing the interests of the applicant and government, the court ‘shall order all official records of the case’ sealed if the ‘legitimate government needs to maintain those records’ do not...

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4 cases
  • In re S.D.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 17, 2023 ordered. Father also filed a motion for. visitation. Mother missed the first hearing on father's. motions, but she attended the second hearing. In ... "unless the court has exercised its discretionary. judgment over the matter in an unwarranted way or committed. legal error." State v. A.S., 2022-Ohio-3833,. 199 N.E.3d 994, ¶ 5 (1st Dist.), citing Johnson v. Abdullah, 166 Ohio St.3d 427, 2021-Ohio-3304, 187 N.E.3d. 463, ¶ ......
  • State v. Brown
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • October 28, 2022
    ......Brown now appeals arguing that the trial court erred by including the putative-father definition in the jury instructions, Siffel was not the "natural parent of any child" to qualify as a family or household member, the conviction was based on insufficient evidence as the state failed to prove the family or household element, and the conviction was against the weight of the evidence.Law and Analysis{¶6} For ease of discussion, we will address the third assignment of error first ......
  • State v. G.H.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • September 15, 2023
    ...offenses to justify a determination that the government's interests outweigh those of the applicant. See State v. A.S., 2022-Ohio-3833, 199 N.E.3d 994, ¶ 15 (1st Dist); State v. Garry, 173 Ohio App.3d 168, 2007-Ohio-4878, 877 N.E.2d 755, ¶ 7 (1st Dist.). III. Conclusion {¶ 25} Because the t......
  • In re I.J.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • June 21, 2023
    ...... the records of the X cases after finding I.J. rehabilitated. In arguing against sealing and expungement, the state raised. I.J.'s adult record, including a 2018 misdemeanor drug. charge and various traffic offenses. . .          {¶5}. Following the ... justice system. I.J. also argues that the court erred in. considering his failure to pay restitution in this case as a. factor indicating a lack of rehabilitation. . .          {¶8}. "The sealing of a record of a criminal conviction is a. privilege, ......

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