It’s not really an expungement in the sense that convictions and records are destroyed and disposed of. Our legislature passed the statutory scheme and called it expungement but attorneys actually put the word expungement in quotes.
Although the new law does indicate that some conviction records will be expunged, it’s not a traditional expungement where records are destroyed. Instead this new statutory scheme provides enough to seal some arrests and convictions in some categories of conviction records and restrict the use of other conviction records.
So they don’t truly get expunged or destroyed or wiped clean. They’re really in essence just sealed and access to those convictions and arrest records are restricted.
How was the expungement law before this previously?
Indiana didn’t have one. In July 2013 our legislature did this because of the statewide economy. People were having a tough time getting jobs. Many people with misdemeanors or low level felony convictions were not able to obtain decent employment because employers would do background checks, a conviction would show up, and that person would not get hired. People were being punished economically long after they had paid their debt to society. This law was designed to seal those records so that the public cannot access them, including potential employers. It’s really just a means to help people seek employment and get jobs.
Why would someone want to get an expungement? If I had a misdemeanor or a felony, could I get an expungement?
They would want to get it expunged so that it’s not on their record and they can get a good paying job. The type of criminal offense will determine the criteria for expungement and the length of the waiting period in order to get the conviction expunged.
What kind of cases cannot be expunged?
There are some ineligible felony convictions that cannot be expunged. Anyone convicted of official misconduct, homicide offenses, human and sexual trafficking offenses, or any sex crime offenses cannot take advantage of the expungement law.
How long does it take? How long does someone have to wait before they can apply for the expungement process?
The expungement law is divided into five sections. It is important to distinguish between Sections 1 through 3 and Sections 4 and 5. Section 1 deals with arrests without conviction or a juvenile adjudication. Section 2 covers all misdemeanor offenses including Class D felonies, or now what is called Level 6 felonies, that were alternatively sentenced as or converted to a misdemeanor after the person served their felony punishment. Section 3 covers Class D/Level 6 felonies that did not result in bodily injury to another person.
Sections 4 and 5 only provide for the marking of certain felony conviction records as “expunged,” but these records remain available to the public on public access. If a conviction is expunged under these sections there are new limits placed on how these records may be used. Section 4 includes all eligible felonies that did not result in serious bodily injury to another person and are not eligible for this remedy if the conviction was for a Class D/Level 6 felony that resulted in bodily injury to another person. Section 5 deals with any remaining eligible felony only if the prosecutor provides written consent to authorize the filing of the expungement petition.
The waiting periods to file an expungement petition differ. For a Section 1 offense the waiting period is one year after the date of the arrest. Under Section 2 the waiting period to file the petition is five years after the date of the conviction. For Section 3 offenses the waiting period is 8 years after the date of the conviction.
Section 4 offenses require a waiting period of 8 years from the date of the conviction or 3 years after the completion of the person’s sentence. The waiting period for Section 5 offenses is ten years from the date of conviction or five years after the completion of the sentence. All of the waiting periods may be shortened only if the prosecutor agrees in writing to shorten it.
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