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State v. Hoover

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

July 30, 2013

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Lonnie Hoover, Defendant-Appellee.

APPEALS from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, C.P.C. No. 12EP-125

Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Michael P. Walton, for appellant.

Garry A. Sabol, for appellee.

DECISION

KLATT, P.J.

{¶ 1} In these appeals, plaintiff-appellant, the State of Ohio, appeals from judgments of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that partially granted the application of defendant-appellee, Lonnie Hoover, to have his criminal records sealed. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand the matter with instructions.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} In 2003, a Franklin County Grand Jury indicted Hoover with a number of charges arising from a car crash that caused the death of one person and severe injuries to another. Ultimately, Hoover pled guilty to counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. The trial court sentenced Hoover to a five-year term of community control with sanctions including restitution and the performance of 200 hours of community service. The trial court also suspended Hoover's driver's license for life.

{¶ 3} In 2012, Hoover filed an application pursuant to R.C. 2953.32(A)(1) to have the records of his convictions sealed. The state objected, arguing that Hoover had not received a final discharge as required by R.C. 2953.32(A)(1) and, alternatively, that sealing would be inappropriate because the government has a legitimate interest in maintaining access to Hoover's criminal history. After a hearing, the trial court partially granted Hoover's application. Specifically, although the trial court sealed the records of his convictions, it did not seal the portion of his sentence that imposed a life-time suspension of his driver's license.[1]

{¶ 4} The state appeals and assigns the following errors:

[1.] The trial court lacked jurisdiction to grant an application to seal the record where defendant had not received a final discharge within the meaning of R.C. 2953.32.
[2.] The trial court erred in purporting to partially seal the record.

II. Has Hoover Received a Final Discharge to Qualify for the Sealing of his Records?

{¶ 5} " '[E]xpungement is an act of grace created by the state', and so is a privilege, not a right." State v. Simon, 87 Ohio St.3d 531, 533 (2000), quoting State v. Hamilton, 75 Ohio St.3d 636, 639 (1996). In light of its nature, expungement should be granted only when all requirements for eligibility are met. Simon at 533; State v. Brewer, 10th Dist. No. 06AP-464, 2006-Ohio-6991, ¶ 5. The state argues that Hoover has not met the requirements for sealing of his records because he has not received a final discharge. We agree.

{¶ 6} Former R.C. 2953.32(A)(1) permitted a first offender to apply for the sealing of conviction records.[2] Because Hoover's convictions were both felonies, he had to wait three years after his final discharge before he could file his application. Id. Whether Hoover has been finally discharged under the statute is a question of law which we ...


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