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Proposed Bill Could Impact Expungement of Low Level Crimes

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Proposed Bill Could Impact Expungement of Low Level Crimes

February 14, 2017

A Fort Wayne Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions Today

Aside from the social stigma that often goes along with having a criminal record, prior convictions can make it extremely difficult for a person to secure employment and housing. In recognition that many teenagers and young adults make reckless decisions that impact them for the rest of their lives, Indiana allows for the expungement of certain low level crimes, including minor sex offenses. However, a state senator recently introduced a new law, known as Senate Bill 169, which if passed, would prohibit the expungement of misdemeanor sex crime convictions.

Current Law

Under the current law, individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor offenses, including those whose Class D or Level 6 felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors, can petition the court system for expungement if the following requirements are satisfied:

  • Five years have passed since the conviction;
  • There are no charges currently pending against them;
  • They have paid all fines and court fees;
  • They have paid any restitution ordered as part of their sentence; and
  • They have not been convicted of a crime within the last five years.

If these requirements are met, the court must order expungement of all conviction records, including those contained in:

  • The court’s files;
  • The files of the Department of Corrections;
  • The files of the Department of Motor Vehicles; and
  • The files of any person who provided treatment or services to the individual under a court order, including law enforcement agencies.

These entities are then banned from releasing the petitioner’s records or even information contained in those records to anyone without a court order, unless the person making the request is a law enforcement officer acting in the course of his or her official duty. However, certain individuals are not permitted to petition the court for expungement, including anyone who has been convicted of two or more felony offenses that:

  • Involved the unlawful use of a deadly weapon; and
  • Were not committed as part of the same episode of criminal conduct.

Proposed Amendments

If Senate Bill 169 is passed, any person convicted of a sex-related offense would similarly be barred from seeking expungement. Critics have raised concerns that the new law would have unduly harsh consequences for non-violent offenders who committed a single low level crime in their youth.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

In some cases, minor mistakes made in a person’s youth can have long lasting and even permanent consequences. For instance, having a criminal record makes it nearly impossible for an individual to obtain certain types of employment, join the military, or take advantage of educational opportunities. While Indiana currently allows many low level crimes to be expunged, the new bill could make this much more difficult and in some cases, impossible. If you are an Indiana resident and were recently charged with a criminal offense, please contact The Bellinger Law Office at 260-428-2214 to speak with a dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can explain your legal options.

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