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The new “Expungement” law
What's allowed; what's not
By Jeff Terrill
Fort Wayne Reader
Most mistakes can be corrected. Criminal convictions, however, stick with people forever. When a person changes his life for the better, shouldn’t he get a second chance?
Do you know somebody who was arrested when he was younger? Ever met someone who can’t seem to find employment because of a prior arrest or conviction? Do you know someone who committed crimes when she was abusing drugs or alcohol and before she got sober? If so, tell them you have good news and to call a lawyer.
Effective July 1, 2013, a person with an Indiana criminal conviction can petition a court to expunge those records. An expunged criminal record could remain accessible by law enforcement. All misdemeanors and many Class D felonies will be eligible for expungement. So will some other more serious felony offenses.
A person petitioning to expunge misdemeanors must prove, among other things, that his convictions are at least five years old and that he successfully completed the requirements of the sentence, has a valid driver’s license, hasn’t’ been in trouble since and has no charges pending. A person petitioning to expunge a Class D felony must wait eight years from the date of the conviction. Other felonies are eligible for expungement after eight years from the sentence (probation or prison) completion date.
Sex offenses, perjury, official misconduct and crimes resulting in serious injuries or death are not eligible for expungement. There are other ineligible offenses. Drug possession and dealing, drunk driving and theft are just a few examples of crimes that are eligible.
The new law only permits a person to petition for the expungement of convictions once. This makes sense. If a person is reformed or rehabilitated, she should only need to petition once. Even if a person has multiple prior criminal convictions in several different counties, he can petition for all of them to be expunged.
There’s little room for error with these petitions. If you are going to do it, make sure it’s done right. Oh, you might not want to wait. This law might not be around next year.
Indiana’s new expungement statute should give thousands of Hoosiers a second chance to clear their names. The new law, however, requires petitions to be accurate, timely and comprehensive. You might not get a second chance to fix an incorrectly filed petition.
Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.