Filing of An Application to Seal a Record of Conviction
Is the Statutory Law In Effect at the Time of Filing of An Application to Seal a Record of Conviction Controlling and Thus Applicable ?
In State v. LaSalle, 96 Ohio St.3d 178, 2002 Ohio 4009, 772 N.E.2d 1172, the defendant was convicted of domestic violence, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Subsequently, pursuant to R.C. 2953.32(A)(1), the defendant filed an application to seal the record of his domestic violence conviction. the trial court granted the application.
Eight months after the decision, the state filed a motion to vacate, asserting that R.C. 2953.36(C) had been enacted four months after the defendant filed his application and one month prior to the trial court's decision, and now prohibited the sealing of records of first-degree misdemeanor convictions involving offenses of violence, including domestic violence.
The trial court granted the motion to vacate. on appeal, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's decision.
The Ohio Supreme Court addressed the matter upon a motion to certify conflict and concluded that "the statutory law in effect at the time of the filing of an R.C. 2953.32 application to seal a record of conviction is controlling." Id., at paragraph two of the syllabus.
The court held that the version of R.C. 2953.36 in effect at the time of the filing of the application did not preclude the sealing of records of convictions of domestic violence offenses, and the trial court improperly applied the amended version of R.C. 2953.36 to the application in advance of the effective date of the statutory changes.
In LaSalle, it was the expungement statute that had changed, not the statute under which the defendant had been charged. There is nary a hint in LaSalle that the Ohio Supreme Court meant that a court must consider the version of the statute under which the applicant was convicted that was in effect at the time of the application to determine eligibility for expungement.
The certified question the Ohio Supreme Court was asked to consider in LaSalle leaves no room for any other interpretation:
Where an application to seal a criminal conviction is filed before the effective date of an amendment to R.C. 2953.36, which amendment prohibits the sealing of the record of the type of conviction referenced in the application, and the trial court rules on the application after the effective date of the amendment, is the amendment to be applied retroactively to the application made prior to the effective date of the amendment?" Id., at P6.