R.C. 2953.32 Interpretation

In State v. Hilbert (2001), 145 Ohio App.3d 824, 764 N.E.2d 1064, the defendant pled guilty to criminal mischief for burning a cross in front of his apartment building. After a hearing, the trial court denied Hilbert's motion to expunge his conviction. The Court reversed the court's denial, stating, "although we are hampered in this case because the trial court's entry simply denied the motion to expunge without giving any reasons therefor, we believe that in light of all the facts in this case, the trial court abused its discretion in failing to carry out the clear legislative intent in enacting R.C. 2953.31 and 2953.32." Id. at 828. The procedure for expungement is set forth in R.C. 2953.32 and provides that the court shall do each of the following when considering the application: "(C)(1)(a) Determine whether the applicant is a first offender or whether the forfeiture of bail was agreed to by the applicant and the prosecutor in the case. "(b) Determine whether criminal proceedings are pending against the applicant; "(c) If the applicant is a first offender who applies pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section, determine whether the applicant has been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the court; "(d) If the prosecutor has filed an objection in accordance with division (B) of this section, consider the reasons against granting the application specified by the prosecutor in the objection; "(e) Weigh the interests of the applicant in having the records pertaining to the applicant's conviction sealed against the legitimate needs, if any, of the government to maintain those records." Thus, in an expungement case under R.C. 2953.32, the trial court "must weigh the interest of the public's need to know as against the individual's interest in having the record sealed, and must liberally construe the statute so as to promote the legislative purpose of allowing expungements." Hilbert, at 827.