Certificate of Qualification for Employment

Will my personal information be made public if I file a CQE petition?

Your personal information is protected by law in the petition process. The Clerk and Court will take all necessary steps to protect your Social Security number and other confidential information. Matters that are already public record will stay that way in the petition process.

Can the Clerk of Courts help me with my petition?

No. The Clerk cannot give you legal advice. The Clerk can only provide you with a blank cover sheet to be filled out, and accept your completed paperwork for filing.

What is a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?

A Certificate for Qualification of Employment (CQE) is a document issued by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) after court approval. A CQE may remove certain barriers to employment for people who have committed felonies or misdemeanors and are finding it hard to get a government-issued occupational license or a job with an employer. A CQE does not guarantee a license or a job, but it may help make the process easier.

Who can get a CQE?

Any person who has been convicted of or plead guilty to a felony or misdemeanor and lives in Hancock County may file a petition for a CQE. Someone guilty of a felony must wait one (1) year after the end of their sentence or the end of community control or supervision. Someone guilty of a misdemeanor must wait six (6) months after the end of their sentence or the end of community control or supervision.

Is everyone guilty of a felony or misdemeanor eligible for a CQE?

No. Certain employment barriers (called collateral sanctions) cannot be removed. These include restrictions on sex offenders, some driver’s license limitations, limits on who can become a law enforcement officer, and limits on who can be a health care professional or an employee of a pain clinic. The complete list is in Ohio Revised Code section 2953.25(C)(5).

I was convicted of crime(s) in other counties. Where do I file?

The CQE process is based on where you live currently. If you reside in Hancock County, you would file for a CQE here, no matter where the prior convictions or guilty pleas occurred.

How do I start the CQE process?

Anyone seeking a CQE must start by filling out a petition application online with the ODRC at http://drccqe.com. At that site, you can fill out the application form online, get an e-mail account if you do not already have one, and submit your petition application for review by the ODRC. The ODRC will review your application to make sure it is legally complete with all the needed information. The ODRC does not make a decision on the application; they just make sure nothing legally required is left out. This will help you start the process correctly.

What happens next?

Once the ODRC has finished its review and your application is complete, they will notify you by e-mail that it is ready for filing with the Common Pleas Court. You will then print the completed petition and go to the Clerk of Court’s Office, located at 300 South Main Street, Findlay, Ohio. The Clerk will provide you with a blank cover sheet to fill out with your contact information. You attach your printed complete petition from the ODRC and the paperwork is ready to be filed.

Is there any cost to apply for a CQE?

Yes. The Clerk will require a $100 court cost deposit. There is no fee for the online application with the ODRC. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may request that the Court approve you filing as an indigent litigant.

What happens after I file a CQE petition?

Once the CQE petition is filed, the Court gathers information about you from the court(s) where you were convicted or plead guilty, gets the input of the Prosecuting Attorney, checks you criminal record, and gets any other information about you that the Court considers important. If needed, the Court may ask you directly for additional information.

Will there be a trial on my petition?

No. The CQE process is based on your history and your need for relief from collateral sanctions. There is no retrial or appeal of your past offenses. The Court may conduct a hearing on the petition if it feels that is necessary, but those hearings should be rare.

Do I need an attorney, and if I do, can one be appointed for me?

No. You do not need an attorney to petition for a CQE. You may have an attorney represent you at your expense if you want, but it is not required. Because a CQE petition is a civil case, there is no right to a court-appointed attorney.

How soon will a decision be made?

The law requires the Court to make a decision within sixty (60) days after your case file is complete. Please remember that there will be some time after you file for your petition while the Court gathers information about you from several sources. The sixty (60) day limit does not start until the Court has all the data it needs.

How will I know what the Court decides?

You will be notified by regular mail of any decision of the Court. If the CQE is granted, the actual certificate will come from the ODRC, and can be downloaded and printed out. If the CQE is denied, you will be notified of the reasons. The Court may impose certain conditions (waiting a certain time, additional efforts at rehabilitation, etc.) on you refiling another petition after a denial.

What happens if I don’t agree with the decision?

The denial of a CQE is a final order and can be appealed to the Third District Court of Appeals.

If I get a CQE, are all my rights given back to me?

No. A CQE only deals with employment or getting a government license for an occupation. If you were guilty of a felony, you still have important limits on your rights to have a gun, vote, or hold public office. A CQE does not change any legal requirements or penalties that come from your original conviction or plea of guilty.

Does a CQE automatically get a license for me?

No. Once you have been granted a CQE, you still need to apply to the Board or Agency that grants the government license. That Board or Agency will make a separate decision based on the law, their rules, your license application, and any standards that apply.

This publication is for information only and is not intended as legal advice. You may review the law in Ohio Revised Code section 2953.25 and/or consult with the legal counsel of your choice.

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Local Civil Rule 1.36 Certification of Qualification for Employment

Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 2953.25, the Court adopts the following procedure to obtain a Certification of Qualification for employment (CQE):

A. The Court has established an electronic account with the division of parole and community services of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to access the CQE system, review completed electronic petitions filed with the Court, receive notices regarding electronic petitions filed with the Court, provide the individual filing the petition with information regarding the petition, and provide the ODRC with information regarding petitions that are granted and denied by the Court.

B. Eligible individuals who seek to petition the Court for a CQE shall establish an electronic account with the division of parole and community services of the ODRC and shall follow the administrative rules and regulations adopted pursuant to R.C. 2935.25 and the rules and procedures adopted by the Court.

C. All petitions for a CQE should be completed electronically, through the ODRC website, on the form prescribed by the division of parole and community services.  The Court will accept the paper filing of a petition for a CQE.  However, Petitioners are encouraged to apply through the ODRC website www.drccqe.com for the most efficient processing.

D. The individual filing the petition for a CQE (Petitioner) is responsible for removing personal and private information, such as the Petitioner’s social security number, from the petition, any exhibits or addenda attached to the petition, or from documents later filed in the proceeding. Personal and private information must be submitted on a Disclosure of Personal Identifier form, which is a non-public record. The information will be kept in a separate envelope within the case file and appropriately marked as containing personal and private information, and opened only upon an order of the Court.

E. After the petition for a CQE has been submitted electronically and is determined to be complete by the ODRC, Petitioner shall appear at the office of the Clerk of Courts, within 30 days of electronic submission, to complete filing and pay a court cost deposit of $100.00 if all convictions are in Hancock County, Ohio, or $150.00 if Petitioner has convictions in multiple jurisdictions. If the Petitioner files a petition with the court but fails to complete filing by paying the court cost deposit within 30 days, the Court will dismiss the petition for want of prosecution. If the Petitioner files directly with the Clerk of Courts, the filing fee must be paid upon filing.

F. The petition for a CQE shall be deemed filed as of the day the Petition personally appeared in the office of the Clerk of Courts and paid the filing fee.

G. Upon the filing of the petition for a CQE, the Clerk of Courts shall notify Court that a proper Petition has been filed and the filing deposit has been paid or waived.

H. The Court shall then notify the Hancock County Adult Probation Department and the Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney of the filing and provide them with a copy of the petition. The Adult Probation Department shall determine, to the extent possible, all other courts with records of felony or misdemeanor convictions (other than minor traffic offenses) of Petitioner and thru the Clerk of Courts, attempt to notify all courts that obtained such convictions, in writing, of the filing of the petition, and solicit comments, in writing, regarding the granting of relief.

I. The Adult Probation Department shall attempt to obtain all presentence investigations and reports, drug and alcohol evaluations and psychological evaluations on the Petitioner for a CQE, and any law enforcement agency’s report or reports on the crime or crimes of conviction.

J. The Adult Probation Department shall notify the judge assigned to hearing the petition for CQE of all the information it has requested, and the results of its notifications and solicitations for comments, and may suggest to the judge any other investigation or information that may assist the Court in deciding whether to grant or deny the petition.

K. All investigation-related documents and information gathered by the Adult Probation Department and the Court in its consideration of the petition for a CQE, shall be deemed confidential and not a public record. Such documents and information shall be treated with  the same level of confidentiality as a pre sentencing report and shall be kept sealed and transmitted in a sealed condition to the court of appeals in the event of appellate review, and shall not be opened except upon an order of the Court.

L. When the Court has completed its investigation and received and assembled all of the documents and information it requires to consider the petition for a CQE, the Hancock County Adult Probation Department shall file a notice with the Clerk of Courts indicating the investigation is complete. The Court will, upon receiving this notice from the Adult Probation Department and Clerk of Courts, schedule a hearing to occur within 60 days.

M. The Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney shall be an associated party to the proceedings on the petition, shall receive notice of any hearing, should attend all hearings on the petition, and should represent the interest of the people of the state of Ohio on all pertinent issues, particularly whether the Petition for a CQE poses an unreasonable risk to safety of the public or an individual. An officer of the Adult Probation Department shall also attend the hearing on the petition.

N. In determining whether to grant a petition for a CQE, the Court may require the Petitioner to undergo psychological testing, drug test, risk assessment or other evaluation, and incur expenses in relation thereto , and may require the Petitioner to pay, or reimburse the County or Court, for the actual cost of such testing, investigation , or evaluation.

O. The Clerk of Courts shall notify the Petitioner and the ODRC of its decision to grant or deny the petition through the Court’s electronic record,  who will distribute certificate materials to the Petitioner   electronically or via the ODRC web site.

P. Petitioners who have been granted a CQE by the Court shall have a continuing duty to report, in writing, to the Court any arrest or conviction of Petitioner for a felony offense after the issuance of the CQE.  Such reports must be filed with the Clerk within seven days of the arrest or the conviction of, or plea of the felony offense.