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What is a criminal history? Can it be Expunged?

At some point in all of our favorite modern crime shows, one of the officers will sit down at a computer, pull up a list, and say something snappy like, “the suspect’s rap sheet is as long as my arm.” But, what is a “rap sheet”, more commonly known as a criminal history, and where can I get mine? If I see something I don’t like, can it be expunged?

Here in Indiana, the Indiana State Police maintains a State Central Repository that houses most criminal history data for arrests and convictions that occur within the State. That repository is formed by information provided to the Indiana State Police about “reportable offenses” collected by sheriff’s departments, police departments, and any other “criminal justice agencies” across the State. According to Indiana Code, a “reportable offense” means all felonies and certain misdemeanors. Additionally, a “criminal justice agency” includes any government department or agency whose primary function includes, among other things, the apprehension, prosecution, adjudication, incarcerations, probation, rehabilitation, or representation of criminal offenders or the location of parents with child support obligations. The information provided by those agencies can include information about the arrest, the formal charges filed, the outcome of the criminal case, any sentence issued, a photograph of the individual, and fingerprints.

The Indiana State Police provides some of the information it receives in a “Limited Criminal History Report” which is available for purchase at its branches and online. Those reports are used frequently by employers or background check companies to find a person’s criminal history. However, those reports include only information about arrests, criminal charges, and outcomes of a case for those matters that the Indiana State Police has received information for. As a result, employers and background check companies will often look other places for criminal history information in addition to that report. Some places other places often utilized include: free online databases, paid online databases, reports maintained by the arresting agencies, which are available as public records, and information maintained by the Indiana Department of Correction. As a result, a full criminal history will often include information obtained through a number of different providers.

Piecing together a full criminal history is particularly important for individuals considering expungement. The law currently allows for an individual to expunge their convictions one time in their life. As a result, if an individual relies only on their Limited Criminal History Report to know what cases are available to be expunged, they may miss cases, like a long-forgotten conviction for possession of alcohol by a minor when they were 18 or 19, or a traffic stop that was charged as a misdemeanor rather than as a traffic ticket, and miss their opportunity for a clear criminal history. This is important because there are currently few exceptions to the “one time” requirement for the expungement of conviction records in Indiana.

If you do not want to take a chance in potentially harming your own expungement, contact the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized history. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.