A Muncie Expungement Lawyer Explains Indiana’s Second Chance Law
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As home to the City of Muncie and Ball State University, Delaware County has over 114,000 people, over 18,000 of whom are enrolled in college or graduate school. As with any county with thousands of college students, Delaware County sees its share of people making mistakes. While some of these mistakes are regrettable and costly, Indiana’s Second Chance Law can provide relief for some people who are looking to fix a less-than-perfect record. If you are worried about what a potential employer, future landlord, or a licensing entity might find out about you while conducting a background check, contact a Muncie expungement lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP to see if the Muncie expungement process can help you seal any public records that could potentially impact your life and future.
How a Muncie Expungement Lawyer Can Help
Expungement is the legal process for sealing criminal records in Indiana. The expungement statute, Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9, does not completely erase or eradicate a criminal history, but it makes access to the associated records impossible or difficult for most people and entities to view. For example, in applications for employment, professional licensure, and other rights or privileges, a person may be questioned about a previous criminal record only in terms that exclude expunged convictions or arrests. Refusal to hire or house an individual on the basis of criminal records that have been expunged may be considered unlawful discrimination in some cases.
Unless properly managed through an effective expungement, your criminal history can hinder your future. Background checks are a common part of applications for housing, financing, employment, and professional licenses. Having your criminal history appear in those checks can prevent you from getting that apartment, loan, job, or license you’re otherwise qualified for. To prevent that from happening, call a Muncie expungement lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP to help seal your records.
What Records Can Be Expunged in the Muncie Expungement Process?
Records containing negative information about your past that could be damaging to your future might be located in several different 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
Your Muncie expungement lawyer can help you make sure you have identified all of the sources that could have records of any previous arrests, charges, or convictions. Your attorney can also ensure that you have covered all of the potential types of records as well:
- Arrest records
- Charges filed
- Pre-trial diversion records
- Juvenile allegations or adjudications
- Vacated convictions
- Vacated delinquency adjudications
- Miscellaneous police or court records
A Muncie Expungement Lawyer Explains What Indiana Expungement Provisions Apply to You
Knowing which provisions of the law apply to your situation is key to knowing what forms to file and when. Indiana’s expungement statute has several provisions that apply to various offenses and types of records:
- Sealing of arrest records under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1
- Sealing of misdemeanor convictions/D Felony reduced to Class A Misdemeanor under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-2
- Expungement of Minor Class D and Level 6 felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-3
- Expungement of less serious Class C Felony or other major felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-4
- Certain serious felony convictions under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-5 with prosecutor consent
- Misdemeanor and minor Class D and Level 6 felony convictions Indiana Code § 35-38-9-6
- Offenses punishable by an indeterminate sentence under Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8.5
The specific circumstances of your situation and criminal history will determine the course your expungement petition needs to take. For instance, if your arrest led to a finding of “not guilty” or if your case was vacated on appeal, you need to know which provision or provisions apply to you so you can pursue expungement according to the correlating statute and procedures.
What about Delaware County Pre-Trial Diversion Records?
Expungement is also possible if charges against you were dismissed through the Delaware County pre-trial diversion program. Diversion programs allow for the dismissal of some first-time misdemeanor offenses when the accused agrees, by contract, to meet certain program requirements. It is important to identify records from a diversion case that should be included in your expungement petition because, even though a diversion might mean no conviction, records of an admission of the offense and the arrest itself are still available. That is where expungement helps.
Are There Waiting Periods in the Muncie Expungement Process?
The period of time that must pass between an arrest, charge, conviction, or prison term and the filing of a petition for expungement varies depending on the level of the offense involved. The timeframes for each type of record are set forth in Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9. The general rule is that, the more serious the offense, the longer the waiting period is to seek an expungement.
Diversion expungements can be sought after one year from the date charges were filed. Misdemeanor convictions and felony convictions have waiting periods from five years after conviction to beyond eight years. Recently, Governor Eric Holcomb clarified that the measuring period for those felony convictions that are later reduced to misdemeanors begins on the date of the felony conviction, not the date the conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor. Because these timeframes can be confusing, it is best to have a Muncie expungement lawyer with knowledge of the law and any related updates or amendments on your side to evaluate and file your expungement petition.
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What Records Cannot Be Expunged?
The expungement statute does have limitations. The law specifies which records can be expunged and specifically lists several types of records that cannot be expunged. Your Muncie expungement lawyer can help you determine if your records are classified within the felony convictions for which there is no opportunity for expungement. Non-expungable offenses in Indiana include:
- Felony committed by an elected official while serving in a term in office or running as a candidate for public office;
- Sex offenses
- Certain Violent offenses
- Felony that resulted in 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
- Various offenses within the following categories:
- Official misconduct
- Human and sexual trafficking
- Sex crimes
Whatever your criminal history includes, you need a legal opinion from a knowledgeable attorney before seeking an expungement. A Muncie expungement lawyer will evaluate your criminal records to identify the information that can be included in an expungement request.
The Delaware County and Muncie Expungement Process
If you are seeking expungement of legal records in Delaware County, Indiana, your expungement attorney in Muncie can help you gather the necessary information to determine eligibility, prepare and file the petition for expungement, and navigate the legal process in general. This will include:
- Making a list of all of the expungements, in any Indiana county, you are seeking because Indiana law provides only one opportunity to file a petition for this second chance, and you must to account for all records at once to clear your history as completely as possible
- Documenting the specific dates of your arrests
- Documenting the names of the arresting officers and the law enforcement department or agency involved in your arrest and any related charges filed
- Drafting a statement that no charges were filed against you or, if charges were filed, including the case caption, cause number, charges filed, status of the charges, and dates and actions of any relevant appellate court decisions
Your petition can then be filed with payment of the appropriate fees.
If your petition is denied, you cannot again seek expungement for the same case or cases. It is essential that you correctly follow the process and include all records that are or will be eligible for expungement the first time you file or you could lose your opportunity to remove damaging information from the record. This is why the guidance and assistance of a Delaware County expungement lawyer is so critical for individuals seeking to clear their record in Delaware County.
One Shot at a Second Chance: Finding a Muncie Expungement Lawyer
With only one shot at your second chance, you do not want to make mistakes. Working with an experienced expungement attorney who can walk side-by-side with you through the Muncie expungement process is essential to securing a future that does not involve employers, landlords, banks, professional organizations, and others perceiving you as someone with a questionable history. You don’t have to continue to pay for crimes that have already been punished and should be behind you.
Keep in mind that the Indiana State Police and other law enforcement or government agencies can provide basic guidance, but cannot give you legal advice. Additionally, changes in the law, such as recent Senate Bill 47, can affect you and your petition for expungement. For the best shot at your second chance, contact a Muncie expungement lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP to find out if you qualify and to make sure your petition is timely and complete. Call us at (317) 751-7186 or complete our online contact form.