Understanding Felony Expungement in Indiana

May 20, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Understanding Felony Expungement in Indiana

An arrest, charge, or conviction for a felony offense on your record can cause significant difficulty living a normal life. A criminal record can make employment, professional licensure, and finding a place to live difficult. Having a felony record can also interfere with certain rights, such as the right to vote. Fortunately, successful Indiana felony expungement can make it possible for those with a criminal record to move forward as if they have no criminal history.

An experienced attorney can help you understand what a felony expungement is, determine whether you are eligible for one, navigate the expungement process, and experience how an expungement can change your life. If you want to start the process to over with a clean record, contact an Indiana expungement attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.

What Is Felony Expungement?

Expungement is the sealing of criminal records so they are only viewable in limited circumstances and by limited persons or agencies. When you receive an expungement, you no longer have to proceed as if you’ve been arrested or convicted. You may proceed in life as if you were never arrested, charged, or convicted.

Indiana expungement law calls for the expunged records to be sealed. The records may only be released by court order or to law enforcement officers acting in their official duty. As such, it is unlawful for anyone to discriminate against a person based on a person’s conviction that has been expunged.

What Records Can Be Expunged in Indiana?

If the court approves an expungement, that order would prevent public access to these types of Indiana criminal records:

  • Appellate court records
  • Arrest records
  • Civil forfeiture records
  • Charging records
  • Criminal convictions
  • Delinquency adjudications
  • Protective orders
  • Trial court records

Should you have any of these in your record, you could qualify for an expungement depending on your case’s circumstances. An experienced Indiana expungement attorney can help determine whether your record is eligible for expungement.

How to Obtain a Felony Expungement

To obtain an Indiana felony expungement, you must file a petition with the court in the county where the conviction was entered. You may obtain an expungement for arrests, charges, and convictions on your record.

The cost for filing a petition for an expungement depends on the records involved and the county where the records are located. For example, in Marion County, there is no fee for filing a petition for expungement of arrest record if no charges were filed or the case was dismissed. If there is a fee, the court may reduce or waive it upon a showing of financial need.

Expungement of felony records in Indiana first requires preparing a petition. This would be the county where the arrest, charge or conviction occurred. Attach to the petition any necessary supporting documents, then file copies of the petition and supporting documentation with the county clerk’s office where the arrest, charge, or conviction occurred and pay any related fees. The court will assign a case number and set a hearing date.

Attempting to seek an expungement on your own is very risky. It is difficult to manage and comply with all of the requirements for obtaining an expungement. Moreover, you may request an expungement once in your life. As such, you must file at the same time—in all necessary counties–for expungement of all records to be sealed. For records in separate counties, you have one year from the date of filing the first expungement petition to file for other expungement in one or more different jurisdictions.

There are two exceptions to the one expungement filing and one-year rule:

  • When the court has denied a mandatory expungement petition, the individual may file an amended petition once the individual meets the eligibility requirements, but only records included in the first petition may be included in the amended expungement filing
  • Within one year of filing a petition for expungement, an individual may file a new petition to expunge a conviction not included in the original petition if the conviction was left off the original petition due to negligence or conditions not under the petitioner’s control

While the court has discretion when granting an expungement, there are certain situations when an expungement is mandatory or required by law. The court must grant an expungement, with exceptions, when any of the following conditions are met:

  • Dismissal of all of the allegations or charges pending
  • Acquittal or vacation of a conviction
  • Failure of the state to proceed with a case against a juvenile and it has been a year since the incident from which the allegations arose
  • Charges were not been filed within 180 days of the arrest

Should you meet all of the eligibility criteria and the prosecutor does not object to your petition, the expungement can be granted without a hearing. However, if there is an objection, the court will set an evidentiary hearing.

Eligibility for an Indiana Felony Expungement

In Indiana, not all individuals with arrest, conviction, or other criminal records are eligible for an expungement. Qualifying for an expungement depends on the type of crime you committed and how long ago the crime was committed. A felony expungement attorney in Indiana can explain whether you are eligible to file for an expungement.

Those convicted of a Level 6 or Class D felony may meet the eligibility requirements to petition for expungement if:

  • A minimum of eight years have passed since the conviction
  • You are not on record as a violent offender or sex offender
  • Charges are not pending against you
  • All fines, restitution, and court costs are paid
  • There has been no other criminal conviction in the prior eight years
  • You have two or fewer felony convictions involving the use of deadly weapons
  • You have no felony conviction resulting from a bodily injury to someone else

If you have a felony conviction on your record, you might meet Indiana’s eligibility requirements for expungement if:

  • It has been eight years since your most recent conviction or three years since the completion of your sentence (the later of the two)
  • You are not a violent offender or sex offender
  • You have no conviction for a felony that caused serious bodily injury to another person
  • You have no pending charges against you
  • All fines, restitution, and court fees are paid
  • You have two or fewer felony convictions involving the use of deadly weapons

If your conviction was for a serious felony, you may meet the eligibility requirements to have your conviction expunged if:

  • You are not a violent offender or sex offender
  • It has been ten years since the conviction, or five years since you completed your sentence (the later of the two)
  • No charges are pending against you
  • All fines, court costs, and restitution are paid
  • You have no additional convictions within the past ten years
  • Use of a deadly weapon was not involved in two or more of your convictions
  • The prosecuting lawyer provides written consent to the expungement

However, it is no longer just those with convictions or juvenile charges on their records who can file for an expungement. Indiana law also allows those participating in a pretrial diversion program to file an expungement petition if the prosecuting attorney authorizes the sealing of those records.

Effects of a Felony Expungement in Indiana

Felony expungements can help you return to your life as it was before your conviction. Expungements positively impact your everyday life, including some civil rights, such as the right to own a gun and voting rights in certain circumstances, and can minimize questions surrounding your conviction.

Records that are expunged and sealed are not generally available to the public or even to prosecutors without a court order. Convictions expunged and not sealed remain public, but they must be clearly marked as expunged. As such, the expunged records are generally not available to the general public.

Under Indiana expungement law, your voting rights and eligibility for public office and jury service are restored upon obtaining expungement of all felony conviction records. Individuals with felony convictions on their record may also face limitations on their rights to gun ownership and possession. Fortunately, an expungement in Indiana can restore the right to possess a firearm to the petitioner. For your gun rights to be reinstated, you must have lost the right to own or possess a gun due to a determination that you are not a proper person under Indiana law.

Felony expungement in Indiana can also remove obstacles to employment. When you apply for a job, professional license, or other right or privilege, you may be asked whether you have a conviction for a crime. Such applications do not ask whether you have a conviction or arrest that has been expunged. Once your records are expungement, you may legally answer “no” to questions about prior felony convictions.

There is an exception to this rule. When a person seeks employment in law enforcement or community corrections, he agency with whom you seek employment may:

  • Ask about your expunged records
  • Refuse to employ you based on a criminal record

When you receive a felony expungement, your life can begin to open back up. Find out if you can have your record expunged with the help of an Indiana expungement attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP.

Juvenile Felony Expungement in Indiana

Expungement of juvenile adjudications is common to pursue later in the juvenile’s life. Fortunately, a person may petition the juvenile court at any time to expunge all records involved with juvenile delinquency proceedings.

When a person reaches the age of 19—or one year after discharge—the juvenile court must automatically expunge the juvenile record. The automatic expungement must occur 60 days from when the young person reaches 19 or one year after discharge.

In Indiana, a minor who was a victim of human trafficking as defined by Indiana Code § 31-37-22-11 may move to vacate an adjudication if the individual proves they were trafficked as a child and coerced to perform the delinquent act, and no person was physically injured as a result of the act.

For the expungement of juvenile records, the minor’s original case prosecutor must be informed of the expungement petition, and the matter must be set for hearing. Both the prosecuting attorney and the minor are entitled to be heard at this hearing.

An Indiana Expungement Attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP Can Help Open Opportunities

Whether you have an adult felony record or a record of juvenile delinquency allegations, you may be eligible to have your arrest or conviction record expunged. The process can be difficult, but an experienced felony expungement attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help. For a free consultation, contact us by calling (317) 857-0160 or send us a message.

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