Kokomo Expungement Lawyer
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With a population of nearly 83,000 people, Howard County, Indiana and its county seat, the City of Kokomo, enjoy a vibrant community with loads of parks and recreational opportunities. For those with criminal records, however, it can be difficult to engage with the local community. Employment opportunities and housing options can be limited as can volunteer positions and other opportunities to participate in community activities. A Kokomo expungement lawyer can help you file a petition to expunge your criminal records with the Howard County court system so you can move forward with a clean record as a respected resident of your local community.
A Kokomo Expungement Lawyer Can Help Clean the Slate
Crimes that you were arrested for or convicted of years ago can significantly impact your present life and future opportunities. Prospective landlords, employers, lenders, educational institutions, and licensing entities can easily conduct their own background checks using the Indiana State Police site, Indiana’s online case history portal, or Doxpop. A mistake or misunderstanding from your youth or a difficult period in your life should not impact your ability to move forward after you have completed the sentence or other consequences for those events. Everyone deserves the opportunity to engage with and be a part of the community in which they live. For many, expungement offers that benefit.
Indiana’s Second Chance Law provides some relief to people who are still paying a price for mistakes made in the past. A Kokomo expungement lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you understand how expungement works—what it does and does not do—and determine if you qualify for relief under Indiana expungement law. If your criminal records are eligible for expungement under the law, our attorneys will work with you through the process of gathering all relevant records and evidence, completing and filing the appropriate forms, and managing any legal issues that arise in the process.
What is an Expungement and Why is it Helpful?
What is an expungement under Indiana law? Imagine you do not want certain people to see the details of your checkered or colorful past. Perhaps you are seeking a new job or a loan, and you are afraid that your criminal record will make a negative impression or altogether eliminate opportunities you are pursuing.
An expungement under Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9 allows for the sealing of some criminal records and makes access to such a record either impossible or difficult for non-law enforcement persons. One advantage of expungement is that, even if you are questioned about a previous criminal record when you apply for a job, a professional license, or other privilege, you do not have to disclose or answer affirmatively about expunged convictions or arrests. Law enforcement and courts may still be able to access your expunged records if, for example, you find yourself in legal trouble again. However, denial of housing or employment on the basis of an expunged criminal record can be considered discrimination. If you believe you have been treated unfairly after an Indiana expungement, a Kokomo expungement lawyer can help determine if there might be legal recourse.
Who Can Benefit from the Indiana Expungement Law?
People make mistakes. Understandably, people do not want those mistakes to be held against them, especially when the designated penalties for those actions have been completed or paid. Expungements can help people:
- Who were never convicted but have some arrest or charges out there that could be removed from the public record
- Who had their prosecution deferred but would rather not have the prosecution details revealed
- Who participated in a diversion program and thought they would never have to explain the situation again
- Who had their conviction overturned on appeal and feel it is unfair to have it used against them
- Who were convicted of a misdemeanor or a Class D felony that was reduced to a misdemeanor
- Who were convicted of a non-violent felony
Expungements are not limited to documents of conviction. Instead, an expungement helps ensure that certain records surrounding specific events are sealed from curious eyes. Records of past behavior can be found in more places than people might think. Records that should be considered when petitioning for expungement include the following:
- Arrest information
- Juvenile convictions or allegations
- Vacated convictions
- Vacated delinquency adjudication
- Protective orders
- Traffic records
- Marijuana offense records
A Kokomo Expungement Lawyer Explains What an Expungement Can Do
Successful sealing or expungement restricts access to records found in these places:
- The court of jurisdiction
- The Indiana Department of Correction
- Files of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Files of any service or treatment provider who provided service or treatment by court order
Arrests and Convictions
Which section of the Second Chance Law applies in your case depends on what you want to expunge. These records can include:
- Arrest records under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1
- Juvenile delinquency records under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1
- Misdemeanor convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-2
- Minor Class D and Level 6 felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-3
- Less serious felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-4
- Certain serious felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-5
- Misdemeanor and minor Class D and Level 6 felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-6
- Certain offenses punishable by an indeterminate sentence under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8.5
Unique circumstances can complicate matters. You need to know how to determine which provisions apply to you and which records you want to expunge for the expungement to have full force and effect. A Kokomo expungement lawyer can help you identify all relevant records to ensure that your petition and any resulting expungement orders cover all offenses that can have a negative impact on your life.
Pre-trial diversions allow some individuals and first-time offenders in Indiana to admit to a crime or crimes but avoid charges or even have the charges dismissed. Even with a successful diversion, however, the records of a person’s admission of the offense are still available. Expungement can be beneficial in these cases as well. Once records are expunged, access to the related records is restricted.
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What an Expungement Cannot Do
Some felony convictions are not eligible for expungement. Situations in which an expungement is not allowed under Indiana law include the following:
- An elected official is convicted while serving in an official term or while running as a candidate for public office
- An individual is classified as a violent or sex offender
- An individual is convicted of a felony that resulted in serious bodily injury to another person
- Two or more felony offenses that involve the unlawful use of a deadly weapon that are not part of a single episode of criminal conduct
- A person is convicted of various crimes that fall within these categories:
- Official misconduct
- Human and sexual trafficking
- Sex crimes
It is important to know that expunged records are sealed from most access, but the records are not destroyed. Expunged criminal records can still be accessed by law enforcement in the course of duty or by someone with a court order for the records. Felony records are treated differently than misdemeanor charges and other expunged records. When expungement is granted for felony convictions, the record may still be publicly available but it must be marked as expunged.
How Do I Get My Record Expunged?
You can apply for an expungement only once, and this applies to all of the counties where your arrest, charge, or conviction occurred. Prepare with your expungement lawyer in Kokomo by taking a few essential steps:
- Make a list of all of the criminal records, in any county, you are seeking to have expunged
- Include in the list the specific dates of your arrests
- Try to include the names of the arresting officers and of the law enforcement department or agency involved
- Indicate for each incident whether charges were filed and, if so, include in the list the case caption, the cause number, the exact charges filed, the status of the charges (dismissed, convicted, acquitted), and the dates and actions of any appellate court decisions
The expungement process is complicated. Getting it right the first time is critical because you cannot again seek expungement for the same case if your request is denied. This is just one of the reasons it is wise to consult and work with an experienced Kokomo expungement lawyer who can help gather information and records, complete the petition properly, and follow through with any additional necessary steps to ensure a complete and effective expungement of all applicable records.
Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP for Your Kokomo Expungement Lawyer
The more serious the offense, the longer the waiting period is to seek an expungement, and the law changes periodically. Working with the help of a Howard County expungement lawyer will help you know at what point you might qualify, what you need to file and when, and whether there have been any critical changes in the law that impact your ability to file or when you may be eligible for expungement.
The qualifications and requirements for expungement are cumbersome. With only one opportunity for a second chance, you cannot afford to make mistakes. The Indiana State Police provides information about the process on its website but cautions that it cannot give you legal advice. With a Kokomo expungement lawyer helping you along the way, you will have the confidence of knowing that you are taking the right steps toward expungement in Indiana at the right time.
Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP to ensure that you take the right steps in a timely, effective manner. We want your expungement petition to be successful. Call us at (317) 751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.