The Indiana General Assembly passed an expungement law in 2013 to give ex-offenders who have turned their lives around a second chance. Since then, thousands of Hoosiers have taken advantage of the law.
What is an expungement?
Hoosiers who meet certain criteria can file to have their record of arrests and convictions expunged. An expungement doesn’t completely erase a criminal record as many people think. To be clear, the records remain with law enforcement agencies, but they are ordered to keep them confidential from the public. The records are sealed and may only be released by a court order or to a law enforcement officer acting officially.
You may petition to expunge a misdemeanor conviction if your record has been clean for at least five years, you don’t have any pending criminal matters, and you don’t have a suspended driver’s license. Most non-violent felonies require a waiting period of eight years, and more serious felonies require a ten year wait and the consent of the prosecuting attorney. Expunging an arrest that didn’t lead to a conviction is available after a one-year waiting period. Expungement is not available to sex offenders, violent offenders or anyone convicted of official misconduct.
Why get an expungement?
Criminal convictions, even misdemeanors, can prevent you from getting a job, renting a place to live, or becoming a family member’s guardian. The idea behind expungement is that a youthful mistake should not hinder a you for the rest of your life if you have learned from your arrest or conviction and have avoided subsequent trouble. Once you receive an expungement, you can legally say that you have never been convicted of a crime. And an employer is not permitted to ask whether you have had any arrests or convictions expunged from your record.
What’s the process?
First, you must track down your criminal history, determine if you are eligible for expungement and then draft and file a petition in the county where you were convicted. There is usually a filing fee for an expungement petition equal to the court’s civil filing fee, usually $156 in most courts. There is no filing fee if you petition to expunge an arrest that didn’t lead to a conviction.
You may only petition to expunge your record once in your lifetime. That’s why professional legal advice is so important before embarking on the expungement process.
- Posted by Mary Foley Panszi
- On May 4, 2017
- 0 Comments