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Attorneys for Sealing Indiana Protective Order Records
Being the subject of a protective order can have lasting impacts. Whether the court denied an application for a protective order against you or the protective order has expired, public records continue to show you were once named as a person against whom someone applied for a protective order. Indiana has long allowed the expungement of criminal records in certain cases, but, in 2019, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law also setting out a procedure for sealing Indiana protective order records.
At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we focus on protecting your rights. Whether that’s through criminal defense, expungement of your criminal record, or sealing your Indiana protective order record and related files, we know how opportunities can be shaped—or limited—by having these records.
How Sealing Indiana Protective Order Records Can Help You
Whether borne of a simple misunderstanding or the result of a particularly tense situation from your past, records showing that someone has sought a protective order against you can haunt your future. Even if you did not violate a protective order—or if a protective order was wrongly entered against you—as the subject of the order, you’ve been publicly named as someone who threatened or caused harm to another person.
Sealing Indiana protective order records can help clear your name and your path to a brighter future, but only if you take the necessary steps and in the manner required by statute. Otherwise, this stain on your record can follow you for years and affect your options for employment and housing, not to mention your reputation.
What Is a Civil Protection Order?
A civil protective order prohibits the subject (the person against whom the order is entered) from contacting or being in the same general location as the alleged victim. Alleged victims commonly claim that the subject threatened or committed some type of violence, harassment, or stalking against them. These orders are issued by a court in a civil proceeding filed under the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act, Indiana Code chapter 35-26-5. Upon finding that the alleged victim has satisfied the requirements in the Act, the court issues a protective order against the subject, prohibiting him or her from contacting, harassing, stalking, or threatening or committing violence against the alleged victim.
The Indiana Civil Protection Order Registry and Related Records
Upon issuing a protective order, the court enters the protective order into the Indiana Protective Order Registry. The Registry links to the Indiana Data and Communication System (IDACS), which the Indiana State Police maintains, and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which the FBI maintains. In this way, civil protection orders are almost immediately accessible all across the country.
In addition to the Registry, the court that issued the order also maintains court records of the proceeding. Court records include the petition alleging the conduct supporting the entry of the protective order and hearing transcripts. If the alleged victim claimed any violations of the protective order, then there might also be records of a related criminal case.
The Indiana Protective Order Registry is publicly searchable, making your protective order records available to anyone with access to the Internet. Similarly, the docket showing activity in criminal case files is accessible by searching mycase.in.gov. In other words, these files are open for public access.
The Impacts of a Civil Protection Order
A civil protection order may limit where you may go, so as to avoid contact with the alleged victim, but it may also limit your access to weapons. In some cases, the court prohibits the subject of a protective order from possessing weapons or ammunition. And while being the subject of an Indiana protective order is not a criminal offense, it may be used as a reflection of your character in deep background checks.
Deep background checks may be used in many situations, revealing a protective order entered against you. If the protective order prohibits access to weapons or ammunition, employment in certain areas, such as law enforcement and security, might be impossible. And the public nature of the Indiana Protective Order Registry makes your situation public knowledge to anyone who searches your name. Sealing Indiana protective order records removes them from public databases and files—as if they’d never been there.
The Process of Sealing Indiana Protective Order Records
As of July 1, 2019, anyone who was the subject of an Indiana protective order may ask to seal records of the matter, effectively eliminating public access to them. With a process now in place explaining how to expunge a protective order, many with an Indiana protective order record may now ask to have those records removed from public view.
Indiana Code § 34-26-7.5-2 defines the records that may be sealed to include the protective order itself and all records that relate to it, including the petition filed to obtain the protective order. This means that you would need to take different steps to expunge criminal records based on violation of the protective order at issue.
Under Indiana Code § 34-26-7.5-1, you may be eligible to have your protective order records sealed if you meet any of these criteria:
- A petition for a protective order against you was dismissed before a court hearing on it
- The court denied the petition for a protective order against you
- The person who was seeking the protective order did not appear at the court hearing in the matter
- A protective order entered against you was reversed or vacated on appeal
- Someone requested a protective order against you but the court did not grant it for some other reason
To start the process for sealing Indiana protective order records, you first need to file in the court that issued or denied the protective order a petition that includes the information and records listed in Indiana Code § 34-26-7.5-3:
- Your full name
- Your birthdate
- Your address
- The case number
- The petitioner’s Social Security number
- The petitioner’s driver’s license number
- The date the court issued the protective order (or ex parte order for protection, if applicable)
- A statement explaining why you are entitled to have the records sealed
- Certified copies of the protective order, the ex parte protective order, the order denying the petition for a protective order, or the appellate court opinion vacating or reversing the protective order, as applicable
The petition must be filed under seal, meaning the petition is filed as a confidential document not generally accessible to the public. Successfully filing under seal requires compliance with many technicalities, and failure to follow them can impair the sealing of your request and protective order records.
Upon receiving a complete petition, the court reviews the same to determine whether there is any reason, on the face of the petition, for denying the request to seal your protective order records. If there are none, then the court will forward a redacted copy of the petition to the person who had sought the protective order and set the matter for hearing.
The court will hold a hearing on your request to seal protective order records unless the person who had originally requested the protective order, in writing, waives the right to appear at the hearing. At the hearing, you have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that you are entitled to have the protective order records sealed. If you meet that burden, and your petition otherwise supports your request, the court will grant your request to seal your Indiana protective order record.
The Effect of Orders Sealing Indiana Protective Order Records
If the court grants your request for sealing Indiana protective order records, Indiana Code § 34-26-7.5-6 mandates that the court enter an order requiring the following actions:
- The office of judicial administration must remove the protective order(s) from the Indiana Protective Order Registry
- The court must redact or permanently seal its own records regarding the protective order
If your request to expunge or seal protective order records arises from the appellate court’s vacating or reversing a protective order, then the appellate court must take the following steps:
- Redact the appellate court’s memorandum decision or opinion in the office of technology computer to remove your name
- For published opinions, provide a redacted copy of the opinion to the publishers or organizations that normally receive a copy of opinions handed down
Under Indiana Code § 34-26-7.5-7, the sealing of your protective order records means that you may act as if the protective order had never been entered. In other words, if asked by an employer or potential employer about any protective orders against you, you may honestly answer that no such petitions have ever been filed against you.
Violation of an Indiana protective order is a criminal offense. If you violated a protective order, you may have remembered to seek an expungement of those records, but don’t forget the civil protective order records.
Indianapolis Protective Order Expungement Lawyers Helping Brighten Your Future
Eligibility to have protective order records sealed and the procedures for obtaining that relief are quite technical. Failing to understand and follow the eligibility hurdles and specialized requirements in these proceedings can completely undermine your efforts to clear your record and take time and money to remedy. You need Indianapolis protective order expungement lawyers with experience in helping you pave the way to a clean start.
Get started today. As leading Indianapolis protective order expungement lawyers, we know where to look for your protective order records, how to evaluate your eligibility for sealing Indiana protective order records, and how to quickly and efficiently assist you through the process of expunging records relating to any protective order sought or obtained against you. Call now for a free consultation by dialing (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form.
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