In Indiana, potential employers are permitted to ask “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has not been expunged by a court?” Additionally, Indiana residents who have been convicted of some crimes are not permitted to vote, hold public office or serve on a jury. Indiana’s expungement laws (or Second Change Laws) allows you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and be treated as if you were never convicted of the offense. (For a full reading of Indiana’s laws on Sealing and Expunging Conviction Records, see Indiana Code 35-38-9.)
What is an “expungement”?
An “expungement” action allows persons arrested or convicted of a crime to request that the courts prohibit the release of the records or information concerning the arrest or conviction. In effect, the courts’ records are sealed and can only be disclosed to law enforcement and certain regulatory bodies (e.g. legal licensing and mortgage licensing).
How do I “expunge” my past criminal record?
An “expungement” action is filed like most types of lawsuits. Generally, a person seeking expungement of their criminal record will need to file a petition in the county where they were arrested or convicted. As this is considered a new action with the court, there will be a filing fee with the county – county clerks or your attorney will let you know the amount of the fee, but it must be paid at the time of filing. (For a full breakdown of what must be included in your petition see Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1 (expunging arrest records) and Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8 (expunging convictions))
When can I “expunge” my past criminal record?
Indiana expungement laws differ between arrests and convictions.
Arrests Only: If you were arrested and were either not convicted or the charges were dismissed, Indiana law allows you to seek expungement one year after the date of the arrest.
Misdemeanor Convictions: If you were convicted of a crime by the courts, the time that must elapse before you can petition the court for expungement depends on the severity of the crime. If you are wanting to expunge any misdemeanor offense, you must wait five (5) years after the date of conviction. Indiana law does allow persons to seek expungement sooner if the county prosecutor consents. Additionally, it is important to note that persons seeking expungement must not have been convicted of any other crimes during the five (5) year period nor have pending criminal charges against them at the time the petition is filed.
Felony Convictions: If you are wanting to expunge felony conviction, you must wait eight (8) years after the date of conviction or three (3) years from the completion of your court ordered sentence. Indiana law does allow persons to seek expungement sooner if the county prosecutor consents. Additionally, it is important to note that persons seeking expungement must not have been convicted of any other crimes during the eight (8) year period nor have pending criminal charges against them at the time the petition is filed.
Additionally, elected officials convicted of an offense and persons convicted of a felony that resulted in serious bodily injury must wait ten (10) years to file a petition for expungement. These persons must also secure the consent of the local prosecuting attorney before the court may order the conviction expunged.
Lastly, there are some convictions in Indiana that cannot be expunged even after ten (10) years from conviction. If you were convicted of a sex or violent crime, convicted of perjury, or convicted of multiple felony offenses involving the use of deadly weapon, you are not eligible to have those matters expunged.
Will the court grant my expungement request?
Arrests Only: If you were arrested and were either not convicted or the charges were dismissed, the court shall grant your petition assuming that you have followed the proper form and you currently have no pending criminal charges against you.
Misdemeanor Convictions: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, the court shall grant your petition assuming that you have followed the proper form, waited five (5) prior to petitioning, paid all fines and restitution, have not been convicted of any other crime in the previous five (5) years, and have no pending criminal charges against you.
Felony Convictions: Unlike arrests and misdemeanor petitions to expunge, to which the court shall grant when petitioned, the courts are granted more authority in deciding felony petitions and they may deny your request. Additionally, even if granted, a petition for expungement does not affect an existing or pending driver’s license suspension.
What are the benefits of having my criminal arrests and convictions expunged?
A person whose record is expunged shall be treated as if the person had never been convicted of the offense. Additionally, Indiana Code § 35-38-9-10(b) make is unlawful for any person to suspend, expel, refuse to employ, refuse to admit, refuse to grant or renew a license or otherwise discriminate against any person because of a conviction or arrest record expunged under this law. Also, the civil rights of a person whose conviction has been expunged shall be restored, including the right to vote, to hold public office, and to serve as a juror.
What else do I need to know about expungements?
A person may only seek expungement one time during the course of their lifetime. So, you will need to include all offenses you want expunged in the same petition. If you are seeking expungement of multiple offenses in multiple counties, you will need to file your petitions in each of the counties in the same year.
While the judge may grant your petition without a hearing, the judge can order a hearing on your request at their discretion or if the county prosecutor objects to your request.
If you are interested in pursuing expungement of your arrest or criminal record, Keiffner Allen | Attorneys at Law are here to assist. Our attorneys will work with you and guide you through the process so you can put the mistakes of your past behind you and move on with a clean slate.