Expunging criminal records under Indiana’s laws

Indiana law now allows people charged in the state to expunge some convictions, including misdemeanors and minor felonies, if they meet certain criteria.

Many people in Indianapolis, Indiana, have learned first-hand that one conviction or arrest can have lasting consequences. Last year, Indiana legislators passed a new law to make the expungement of arrest records and certain criminal records easier. People who are arrested, charged or convicted in Indiana can benefit from understanding which records can now be sealed and what requirements they must meet when petitioning for expungement.

Permitted expungements

Under a law that went into effect in 2013, people who were arrested or convicted in Indiana may be able to expunge arrest records, misdemeanors and even certain felonies. Violent or sexual crimes are typically not eligible for expungement. If an individual's petition for expungement is granted, all of the following records will be sealed:

  • Court files.
  • Department of correction files.
  • Bureau of motor vehicle files.
  • Any files kept by a professional who served the petitioner under a court order.

Expunging arrest records may be easier under the new law. In the past, people had to prove an arrest was wrongful due to factors such as mistaken identity, lack of probable cause or lack of actual criminal activity, according to the Indiana Code. Now, people who are arrested but never charged, along with people whose charges were dismissed, can have the record of the arrest expunged just a year after the arrest occurs.

People should understand that, when criminal records are expunged, the record still exists for law enforcement purposes. According to Fox 59, if people break the law after expungement, the expunged records could still be used against them. For example, a person may expunge a misdemeanor DUI, but if the person were convicted of the same offense again, he or she would face the heightened penalties associated with a second conviction.

Criteria for expungement

People who wish to expunge misdemeanors and felonies given alternative misdemeanor sentencing must wait until five years after the date of conviction, according to the Indiana Code. For Class D felonies and other felony convictions, the minimum waiting period is eight years. People who are convicted of other crimes during the waiting period lose eligibility for expungement.

People must also meet certain other criteria when they petition for expungement. The person cannot have any pending criminal charges or pending license suspensions. The person must also not have any outstanding sentence terms that have not yet been served.

If a petition for expungement is denied, in some cases, the person loses the right to file another petition later. At best, the person will have to wait another three years. If someone with multiple convictions fails to include one of those convictions in the initial petition, that conviction cannot be included on any subsequent petitions. Therefore, people should hire an attorney and properly file the initial petition, instead of risking mistakes that may have lasting effects.

Considering the lasting benefits of expungement, along with the possibility of a petition being denied, anyone who wishes to expunge a record can benefit from seeking qualified legal help. An attorney can help people understand the benefits and limitations of expunging a given type of record.

Keywords: expungement, criminal record