Factors to Consider for Expunging a Criminal Record

Criminal Defense
Factors to Consider for Expunging a Criminal Record

March 26, 2022

When you are considering your options for expunging a criminal record in Fort Wayne, Indiana, it is important to consider a wide variety of factors and to seek assistance from a criminal defense attorney. There are many different things you will need to know about expungement under Indiana law, and the following are some of the key factors to consider when it comes to expunging a criminal record.

Do You Understand How Expungement and Sealing Work?

The first factor you should consider is whether you understand how expungement or record sealing work. These terms are often used interchangeably, but in many situations, they refer to two different actions. In general, an expungement is akin to the erasure or destruction of your criminal record (or something on it) so that it no longer exists. Record sealing refers to the process of sealing your criminal record from the public, but you will still need to disclose that record in certain circumstances, and certain parties can still gain access to the sealed record. 

In Indiana, a person will file a petition for expungement, and when an expungement is granted, the criminal record is sealed. As such, it is not a true expungement, but rather a record sealing you will be seeking when you file a petition for expungement. It is important to understand how this process works in Indiana because it may not be the same in other states.

Is the Offense Eligible for Expungement?

Next, is the offense on your criminal record one that is eligible for expungement or expunction under Indiana law? Some types of offenses are never eligible for expungement, including the following:

  • Sex offenses;
  • Violent offender status crimes;
  • Homicide;
  • Manslaughter; and
  • Certain offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon.

Are You Seeking to Have an Arrest or a Conviction Expunged?

Another important factor to consider when seeking an expungement is whether you are planning to petition for an expungement of an arrest or a conviction. Generally speaking, it is much easier and quicker to get an expungement for arrests and charges than it is for a conviction. In most cases, you can petition for an expungement of an arrest, a criminal charge, or a juvenile delinquency adjudication within one year from the date of the arrest or the charge or the adjudication. You must wait for that one-year period, however, to be eligible for expungement.

You will need to wait longer to petition for an expungement or sealing of a criminal conviction on your record. The amount of time you will need to wait will depend upon the classification of the offense. In general, if you want to have a misdemeanor offense or certain low-level felony offenses, you can petition for an expungement or sealing if it has been at least five years from the date of your conviction. In addition, you must not have had another criminal conviction within that five-year period, you cannot have any pending criminal charges against you, and you must have paid any fines or fees associated with your conviction.

Seek Advice from a Criminal Defense and Expungement Lawyer in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Do you have questions about your eligibility for filing a petition for expungement, or do you need assistance expunging your criminal record? One of our experienced Indiana expungement lawyers can speak with you today about your circumstances and your options. Contact The Bellinger Law Office to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Robert H. Bellinger



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