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A second chance 2014
The “expungement law” gets a few changes
By Jeff Terrill
Fort Wayne Reader
Last summer I wrote about Indiana’s “new” expungement law, also referred to as a second chance law. Good news for many. Effective March 26, 2014, lawmakers made it even more appealing for people trying to clear up an old criminal record. Many parts of the law remain unchanged, but there are some important improvements that should enable more people to clean up an old mess.
Meet Amy. Amy will be thirty years old next month. She’s come a long way (even though she’s not a real person). When she was eighteen and a senior in high school, she was caught stealing a pregnancy test from a local pharmacy. Turned out she wasn’t pregnant, but she did get convicted of theft. Amy was placed on probation and ordered to complete an anti-shoplifting education program. At one of her classes, she fell for a guy named Joe who was eight years her senior. He convinced her to skip the next week’s class and smoke weed with him instead.
About a month later, Amy was giving Joe a ride home when she was pulled over for speeding. The police officer smelled marijuana. The officer eventually searched her car and found Joe’s one-hitter marijuana pipe that Joe had surreptitiously placed in the center console.
Amy was charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. She pled guilty without an attorney. The court violated her probation and ordered her to serve six months in jail for all of the charges.
Amy came out of jail a changed person. She stopped hanging around guys like Joe, got her own act together and found a job cleaning in a nursing home. With the encouragement from her supervisor, Amy started taking college courses with the hopes of one day becoming a nurse or a healthcare administrator. After several years of hard work and studies, Amy met with a career counselor at her college only to learn that her criminal record would prevent her from becoming a nurse or working in a hospital.
Amy was devastated. She couldn’t believe that the poor decisions she made over ten years earlier could continue to jeopardize her future. She was a scared pot-smoking teenager when she got into trouble. The 2013 expungement law didn’t help much because she couldn’t prove that she successfully completed her sentence because she violated her probation.
Fortunately, Amy met with an attorney who explained that the 2014 amendments to the expungement law now opened the door for Amy to petition to have her criminal convictions sealed even though she didn’t “successfully” complete her sentence. Amy learned that she would need to prove that the required number of years had passed (five years from date of conviction for a misdemeanor and eight years from the date of the Class D felony conviction). She would also need to show that she hadn’t been in trouble since her last conviction and that she had paid all of her court costs, fines and restitution.
Amy is grateful for a second chance – a fresh start. She won’t need another one.
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.