Your criminal record can seriously impair your ability to move forward in many areas of your life. Impacts include limitations on your employment and housing options, higher insurance costs, losing your right to own or possess firearms and ammunition, and enhanced or higher sentences for future offenses. The Indiana second chance law gives you an opportunity to clean up your record to get a fresh start. Amendments to the Indiana expungement law in 2020 make the process easier than ever, but there are still precise guidelines and limitations to cleaning up your criminal record, making guidance from experienced Indiana expungement attorneys a necessity.
What Is the Indiana Second Chance Law?
Your criminal records are public records, meaning they are available to anyone who wants to look at them. Although few take the time to dig through court files, some may consider such records in the normal course of business, such as evaluating job or housing applicants. The Indiana second chance law is a statute that sets out a process for sealing your criminal records of Indiana offenses, giving you a clean slate. In other words, if asked on an application about offenses covered by an Indiana expungement order, you can honestly answer as if the convictions had never occurred.
The Indiana expungement statute has many requirements, and failure to follow the necessary steps precisely can ruin your chances for cleaning up your record. For that reason, it’s best to work with Indiana expungement attorneys who know the process and court procedures.
An Overview of Indiana Expungement
Expungement of your criminal records requires court approval. To start the ball rolling, you need to file a petition for expungement in the court that issued the judgment(s) of conviction and serve a copy of the petition on the local prosecutor’s office. The petition must include very specific information listed in Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1. The court may set the matter for hearing or grant the petition without a hearing.
You get one shot at an expungement in Indiana. In other words, if you are applying for expungement, you may do so only once. You must include in your petition for expungement all offenses you wish to have expunged in the same petition and file it in the county where you were convicted. If you wish to expunge records for convictions in multiple counties, you must file a petition for expungement in each county within a 12-month period.
How the Expungement Waiting Period Affects You
Indiana expungement law, found at Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9, sets a waiting period before you can seek an expungement. The length of the waiting period depends on the type of offense:
- One year for juvenile delinquency records, arrest, and charges (not convictions);
- Five years for misdemeanor convictions and low-level felony convictions that were reduced to misdemeanors;
- Eight years for Class D or Level 6 felony convictions; and
- Eight years from the date of conviction or three years from the completion of your sentence for major felony convictions.
In 2020, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 47 (SEA 47), which, in part, clarified the waiting period for felonies reduced to misdemeanors to start from the date of the felony conviction, not from the date the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor. SEA 47 also modified the Indiana second chance law in these ways:
- Allowing the expungement of records showing the denial of an ex parte civil protection order;
- Requiring background check companies to review their records and remove expunged protective orders;
- Providing an exception for law enforcement, probation, and community correction agencies to ask employment candidates about expunged files; and
- Spelling out the procedure for expunging records of a collateral action in a county different from the county that issued the expungement order.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get My Record Expunged?
Expungement of your criminal records can give you a new lease on life, but only if you follow the statute’s procedures precisely. Working with experienced Indiana expungement lawyers is the surest way to know that your expungement is done right.
The Indiana expungement lawyers at Camden & Meridew, P.C. understand what’s at stake for you and work diligently with you to collect your criminal record and apply for expungement under the Indiana second chance law when the timing is right. Start your new life today by calling for a consultation at (317) 770-000 or complete our online contact form.