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What You Need to Know about Indiana Expungement

Understanding the Process and Benefits of Expungement

Left alone, your criminal record can follow you your entire life even if years have passed since you completed your sentence. But you have options. You may be able avoid the shadow of your criminal record by obtaining an expungement. An expungement legally seals your criminal record so you won’t continue to suffer from past mistakes. Indiana expungement law, aptly referred to as the Second Chance Law, lets you escape your former self’s criminal record and forge a new future with a clean slate.

At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, our deep experience in criminal defense practice includes guiding you through the process of expunging your criminal records. If you’re interested in learning more about expungement in Indiana, we’ve put together some answers to Indiana expungement frequently asked questions (FAQ).

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Indiana Expungement Basics: FAQ

Your criminal record can block opportunities to succeed in life, but you don’t have to be defined by your past. Indiana expungement law allows you a chance at a fresh start. To understand what expungement can do for you and how expungement proceedings work, check out this Indiana expungement FAQ:

What Is an Expungement?

Expungement is the legal process for sealing your criminal records within the criminal justice system. With court approval, records of your criminal history, especially if you have been convicted of a crime, can be sealed from viewing by non-criminal justice agents or persons. This process is crucial for reintegrating into society by restricting access to your criminal records. Obtaining an expungement also means you would not have to disclose your criminal history to potential employers, landlords, and licensing organizations. Although the term “expungement” may sound like records are erased or destroyed, under Indiana expungement law, an expungement would not destroy your records. Instead, it would prevent access by non-governmental persons and organizations. In other words, expungement would not prevent the court, prosecutors, or law enforcement within the criminal justice system from accessing your criminal records, ensuring that while your records are sealed from the public, they remain accessible for legal and law enforcement purposes.

Do I Need an Expungement?

Anyone with an Internet connection can see your criminal record. Potential employers, landlords, and licensing organizations are just a few of the entities that inquire about an individual’s criminal record. Whether they obtain a formal background check or merely check the state’s online case history portal, your criminal record is available for all to see. Many people are surprised to learn how much of one’s life can be impacted by past mistakes:

  • Job opportunities
  • Housing opportunities
  • Driving privileges
  • Child custody matters
  • Professional licensure
  • Voting rights
  • Your right to own and carry a gun

By obtaining an expungement, you can prevent inquiring agents from accessing and using your criminal record to prevent your success in these areas.

What Criminal Records Can Be Expunged?

If approved by a court, an expungement would limit access to the following elements of a criminal record:

Under Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9, criminal records in any of these categories and civil protection orders may be eligible for expungement depending on the individual and the circumstances of the case.

Can a Protective Order Be Expunged?

Records regarding protective order proceedings under Indiana Code chapter 34-26-5 are eligible for expungement in the same way an arrest, charge, or conviction can be expunged. As long as you are otherwise eligible to have your records expunged, you can petition to have the protective order records expunged if any of the following apply:

  • The protective order petition was dismissed without a hearing
  • The protective order petition was denied after a hearing
  • The person seeking the protective order did not appear for the hearing
  • The protective order was vacated or reversed on appeal

Having protective order proceedings on your records can impair many rights and privileges, so be sure to include any protective order records in a petition for expungement.

Do Expunged Records Show on Background Checks?

Expunged records, including juvenile records, do not show up on background checks run by criminal justice persons or agencies and are effectively removed from the public record. This means that a background check conducted by prospective employers, landlords, lending agents, professional licensing authorities, and educational institutions would not reveal your criminal history if they are accessing these expunged court records. However, background checks run by criminal justice agencies such as law enforcement, prosecutor offices, and courts, would still have access to your criminal records, even if they have been expunged, ensuring that these records, while sealed from the general public and removed from public record access, remain accessible for legal and law enforcement purposes.

How Long Does an Expungement Stay on Your Record?

Under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1, court records that are expunged must be permanently sealed. After an expungement, no future background checks by criminal justice personnel or agencies such as prospective employers, landlords, lending agents, professional licensing authorities, and educational institutions will have access to your court records/criminal history. Please note though that under certain circumstances, like the later commission of a new criminal offense, criminal records can be unsealed.

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What Crimes Can Be Expunged?

Whether a criminal record is eligible for expungement depends on several factors:

  • The nature of the record (whether the record pertains to an arrest, charge, or conviction)
  • The level of the offense involved
  • The amount of time that has passed since the arrest, charge, or conviction
  • The nature or characteristics of the petitioner

Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9 lists the criminal records that are eligible for expungement. These include arrest records, misdemeanor convictions, Class D or Level 6 felonies, and certain higher level felonies.

Is There a Waiting Period for Expungement of an Arrest, Charge, or Conviction?

Expungement is not allowed immediately after an arrest, charge, or conviction. The waiting period required depends on the nature of the record and level of the offense. Following are the waiting periods for expungement of arrests, charges, and convictions:

  • For arrestscharges, or juvenile delinquency adjudications, the waiting period is one year.
  • For misdemeanors and lower level felonies reduced to misdemeanors, the waiting period is five years
  • For Class D and Level 6 felonies, the waiting period is eight years
  • For eligible major felonies, the waiting period is eight or more years following conviction or three years from completion of your sentence, whichever is later

Even if you satisfy the waiting period, expungement is not automatic. In some cases, additional conditions apply.

Are There Any Conditions for Expungement?

In addition to the waiting period noted above, eligibility for expungement also depends on satisfying certain conditions.

Individuals seeking expungement of records regarding arrestschargesand juvenile delinquency adjudications must also satisfy these requirements:

  • At least one year since the arrest, charge, or juvenile delinquency adjudication
  • The arrest or charge did not result in a conviction or juvenile delinquency adjudication or, if it did, such was overturned on appeal
  • No current participation in a pretrial diversion program
  • No convictions in the year before filing the expungement petition
  • No currently pending criminal charges
  • Successful completion of all diversion program requirements

For misdemeanors and lower level felonies, you must satisfy these requirements:

  • At least five years since the conviction
  • No convictions in the five years before applying for an expungement
  • No currently pending criminal charges
  • Payment of all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution orders
  • Payment of the expungement filing fee

Eligibility for expungement of Class D and Level 6 felonies depends on meeting these requirements:

  • At least eight years since the conviction
  • No convictions in the eight years before applying for an expungement
  • No currently pending criminal charges
  • Payment of all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution orders
  • Payment of the expungement filing fee

Major felonies, including Class C or Level 5 felonies and higher, may be eligible for expungement if you also satisfy the following conditions:

  • At least eight years since the conviction
  • No convictions in the eight years before applying for an expungement
  • No currently pending criminal charges
  • Payment of all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution orders
  • Payment of the expungement filing fee

Expungement of serious felonies is possible, but you must meet more requirements than for expungement of lower level convictions. First, prosecutor approval is required for offenses that involve serious bodily injury to another person or were committed while serving in an elected public office or as a candidate for public office. In addition to prosecutor approval, anyone seeking expungement of serious felony convictions must also satisfy these conditions:

  • At least ten years since the conviction OR five or more years from the completion of your sentence, whichever is later
  • No convictions in the ten years before applying for an expungement
  • No currently pending criminal charges
  • Payment of all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution orders
  • Payment of the expungement filing fee
  • Prosecutor consent to expunge

Certain offenses are not eligible for expungement under any circumstances:

  • Sex or violent offender under Indiana Code § 11-8-8-5
  • Official misconduct under Indiana Code § 35-44.1-1-1
  • Convictions for two or more offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon that were not committed as part of the same episode of criminal conduct
  • Homicide, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter

How Do I Get an Expungement?

To obtain an expungement of your Indiana criminal records, you must file a petition or formal written request in the court that entered the judgment of conviction or the county of the arrest or charge. Indiana expungement law lists the elements that must be included in the petition, which differ depending on the type of criminal record sought to be expunged (arrest, charge, juvenile adjudication, or conviction). In addition, the petition must be in compliance with the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, timely filed, and served on the county prosecutor.

After the petition is filed, the court will review it and, in some cases, may hold a hearing. If the court approves your petition, it will issue an order directing that the criminal records identified in your petition be sealed.

Can I Expunge My Record More than Once?

No. Under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8.5(i), you may seek an expungement of your criminal records only once during your lifetime. This means you would need to include all of the criminal records you wish to expunge in your petition for expungement. If you have criminal records in more than one county, you would need to file a petition in each such county. All petitions for expungement must be filed within a one-year period.

Can I Expunge Criminal Records Based on Events in Different Indiana Counties?

You may seek expungement of arrests, charges, and convictions that occurred in different Indiana counties, but there is a deadline for doing so. You must file your petitions for expungement in different counties within one year of the filing date of the first petition for expungement. You may seek expungement only once during your lifetime. If you’re going to request expungement of any criminal records, be sure to seek expungement of all other criminal records in other counties within one year of the first petition.

Can I Expunge My Record Myself?

Indiana expungement law does not require you to hire an attorney to prepare or file your expungement petition or represent you during any hearing that may be held. However, the expungement statutes contain strict requirements for the petition for expungement, and how to determine eligibility for expungement can be tricky. An experienced Indiana expungement attorney is key to ensuring you accurately confirm eligibility for expungement of as much of your criminal record as possible. You only get one shot at expungement, and an expungement lawyer can make sure you don’t blow it on technical mistakes.

Find Your Indiana Expungement Attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Your criminal record, accessible to anyone with internet access, does not have to be a barrier to your future success. The criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are respected throughout the state for their knowledge and skills in criminal cases, including expungement. They understand the intricacies of the expungement process, including how to effectively petition for an expungement order and navigate situations where records do not automatically expunge. Because we are confident in our ability to assist with your Indiana expungement, we offer a no-risk, 100 percent money-back guarantee on our infraction, misdemeanor, and felony expungement services, ensuring that you have expert support in securing a future unencumbered by past mistakes.

For more information, check out our expungement practice area page, but don’t wait too long. Start your future success today by calling an Indiana expungement attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP for a free consultation. You can reach us by calling (317) 751-7186 or by completing our online contact formDon’t delay—call now.