In legal terms, to “expunge” a criminal record means to erase it or remove it completely. Expungement is when a court rules to seal your criminal record so that, legally, on public record, it is as if it had never occurred. However, it is not the same as a pardon. It also does not remove the reports of your crime from news stories or social media, where they will still circulate.
However, an expungement can help you if background checks have kept you from exercising certain civil rights and privileges. Under Indiana’s expungement law, also called the Second Chance Law, you might be able to seal your criminal record, eliminating restrictions you have faced regarding housing, child custody, employment, and more.
It’s important to understand that Indiana’s Second Chance Law only restricts access to your criminal records but does not erase or expunge one’s criminal history.
At Worthley Law, we can provide you with the legal services to navigate the process of expunging your records and help you get your life back. Call us today in Valparaiso, IN, at (219) 575-8565, or reach out online to schedule a free consultation.
A past conviction, arrest, or charge can affect you in various ways, even if the event took place several decades ago or when you were a juvenile. A criminal record can limit you in terms of:
- Employment prospects
- Child custody
- Immigration matters
- The right to own a firearm
- Driving privileges
- Loan qualifications
- Professional licensure or certifications beyond your degree
If you have a criminal record, the courts, prospective employers, and landlords can access this information under Indiana’s Access to Public Request Act (APRA).
However, by expunging your records, the court can seal your records of convictions, arrests, or criminal charges. The sealed, expunged records will still exist, but the public cannot access them, and they won’t show up in a background check. You also won’t have a legal obligation to disclose any expunged records in applications, etc.
Expunging Records Under Indiana Law
Indiana expungement law allows for legally clearing arrest or conviction records after you have completed your sentence for:
- Misdemeanor convictions older than five years
- Class D or Level 6 felonies older than eight years
- Felony reductions to misdemeanor convictions
Note: In the case of a major felony conviction, the court might not grant the request to seal the records, even if you have completed the sentence and waited for the required period before filing the petition.
Records Eligible for Expungement
In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly approved new state legislation allowing individuals to expunge adult criminal conviction and arrest records with the help of an expungement lawyer such as our team at Worthley Law.
Since 2013, the Indiana expungement statute has undergone several updates. Read on as we take an in-depth look at the current provisions of this legislation.
You may file a petition to the court to expunge the records relating to an arrest, a juvenile delinquency allegation, or a criminal charge. You will only qualify if:
- The arrest, juvenile delinquency allegation, or criminal charge did not result in a juvenile judgment or conviction
- The arrest resulted in a conviction or juvenile judgment, which the court vacated on appeal
- You are not a participant in a pretrial diversion program
- One year has passed since the date of the criminal charge, arrest, or juvenile delinquency allegation
- You don’t currently have any criminal charges pending against you
If you meet all of the above requirements, the court may expunge the arrests, juvenile delinquency allegations, or criminal charges you listed in the petition.
If you have a past misdemeanor conviction, you may file an expungement petition to the sentencing court. This record category can include a Class D or Level 6 felony that the court reduced to a misdemeanor. You will only qualify for a misdemeanor expungement if:
- You have no pending charges against you at the time you are filing the expungement petition
- You settled all court costs, fines, and fees forming part of your sentence
- You satisfied all restitution obligations the court placed on you as part of your sentence
- Five years have passed since the date of your conviction
- You had no criminal convictions within the five years preceding the date of the expungement petition
The court will expunge the adult convictions in your petition if you meet all the above requirements.
However, some offenses don’t qualify for restoration of all rights. The expungement of a misdemeanor relating to domestic violence will not restore your right to use or possess a firearm. You can restore this right under IC 35-47-4-7 with the legal assistance of an expungement lawyer.
You might be eligible to expunge a felony offense record if you are NOT:
- A sex offender under Indiana Code § 11-8-8-5
- A violent offender under Indiana Code § 11-8-8-5
- An elected official who was convicted of a crime while serving as a candidate for public office or the official’s term
To be eligible for a felony expungement, you must also not have a conviction of any of the following:
- A felony that caused bodily injury to someone else
- Official misconduct or perjury
- A sex crime
- Human or sexual trafficking
- Two or more offenses involving the unlawful use of a deadly weapon and as separate episodes of criminal conduct
If your criminal record includes any of the above felonies, you cannot expunge them directly via a petition. However, at Worthley Law, we might be able to develop a legal strategy to help make eventual expungement of your records possible.
In the case of a Class D or Level 6 felony that the court did not reduce to a misdemeanor, you need to meet the following requirements to be eligible for expungement:
- You had no criminal convictions during the eight years preceding the date of filing the petition
- You have no current criminal charges pending against you on the date of filing the petition
- You paid all court costs, restitution orders, fines, and fees, including the expungement filing fee
You can only file a petition for felony expungement at least eight years after the conviction date.
Filing a petition to expunge adult criminal conviction records is a civil proceeding on its own, and you’ll need to pay the filing fee for a civil action. No filing fee is payable if expunging a criminal charge, arrest, or juvenile delinquency allegation that did not result in a conviction.
Under Indiana law, you can only expunge adult criminal conviction records once in your life. However, you can file to expunge multiple records within a consolidated petition.
You’ll also need to file a separate petition for each county in which your arrest, conviction, or charge occurred. You need to file all expungement petitions in multiple counties within one year.
When filing an expungement petition, the main goal is to protect you from discrimination by sealing access to your criminal record so that the general public won’t be able to access your expunged records. Your name will also disappear from the relevant court case records.
Only a law enforcement officer who acts within the course of duty or someone who conducts a background check with a court order will still be able to access your sealed records.
After expunging misdemeanor, Class D, or Level 6 felony records, the court will order Criminal History Services to seal your expunged records and all records relating to collateral actions. The court will also order the following parties not to release your records or personal information:
- The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- The Indiana Department of Correction
- Any person, institution, or law enforcement agency that prosecuted, incarcerated, or treated you under a court order
In the case of a major felony or serious felony expungement, your records will remain in the public domain but will be listed as “expunged.” After the expungement of felony records, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana State Police, and law enforcement agencies must annotate your records as “expunged.”
Do I need to attend court to file for an expungement?
If you are using Worthley Law’s expungement services, we will go to court and file the petition on your behalf. If the court requests your presence, our expungement lawyer will go with you and represent you during all proceedings. If you cannot attend, we will file a motion to the court.
In which court do I need to file the petition for expungement?
Filing a petition to seal conviction records takes place in the sentencing court. In case of a past arrest, you need to file the petition for expungement in the court where the prosecutor brought the charge against you. If the arrest didn’t result in charges, you must file the petition in the court with jurisdiction in the county where the arrest occurred.
How long does the expungement process take?
On average, Indiana expungement cases take from four to six months. However, each case is unique. If the District Attorney objects or the facts are complex, the case might take longer.
At Worthley Law, we aim to resolve expungement cases as quickly as possible.
What are the reasons for the denial of an expungement case?
The court may deny your expungement case for various reasons, including:
- Inaccuracies in the court file
- Mistakes in the application
- Charges pending against you at the time of filing
If you haven’t met the required waiting period before filing, the court will also deny your expungement case.
Hiring a reputable law firm, such as our team at Worthley Law, reduces the likelihood of the court denying your case.
What happens if the court denies my expungement case?
At Worthley Law, we will prepare your petition thoroughly and identify potential issues that might result in the denial of your case. If the court does deny your case, our attorney will assess the situation and come up with a suitable course of action. In some cases, refiling the petition with supporting information might be necessary.
How long does it take for agencies to update my criminal records?
After the court grants the expungement of your records, government agencies, such as the Department of Corrections, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and law enforcement agencies, can take up to 60 days to update your records. We recommend keeping a copy of the granted order, which you can use to request a record update in the future.
Does expungement allow me to vote?
After the sealing of your criminal records, you can vote in a general, municipal, or special election, provided that:
- You are a United States citizen
- You are at least 18 years old on the election day
- You have resided in your precinct for at least 30 days before the election day
- You are not carrying out a prison sentence following a criminal conviction
Does expungement restore my right to own a firearm?
An expungement might restore your right to own a firearm, following the acceptance of expungement by the United States Department of Justice in 2015. In the case of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, however, you will need to follow an additional process to restore your firearm rights. Please consult with our expungement lawyer at Worthley Law to learn more.
How does an expungement affect my driving record?
After the court grants the expungement of your records, it will order the Bureau of Motor Vehicles not to release your expunged records without a court order. An expungement does not affect a pending or existing driver’s license suspension on your record, even if the suspension relates to the expunged case.
Under IC 9-24-6-2(d), the BMV retains the right to report your conviction records to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System.
Can I serve on a jury after expungement?
An expungement restores your civil rights, including the right to hold public office and serve as a juror. Under Indiana law, you are eligible to serve on a jury after expungement as long as you are:
- A United States citizen
- At least 18 years old
- Residing within the summoning county
- Able to understand, speak, and read in English
- Not suffering from a disability preventing you from carrying out jury duty
- Not a law enforcement officer
- Not under guardianship due to a mental incapacity
A past mistake and run-in with the law can have a significant impact on various aspects of your life. In some cases, people with criminal records find themselves struggling financially due to limited employment opportunities.
A successful expungement petition can give you a clean slate, and you can move on with your life. It can be like waking up from a bad dream.
At Worthley Law, we have extensive experience in expungement cases. Your lawyer will provide you with all the legal advice and representation you need to file a petition for expungement. We will also help you navigate the entire process and provide you with regular updates and any additional legal services you might need.
Call us at Worthley Law in Valparaiso, IN, today at 219-575-8565 to schedule an initial consultation.