Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on December 15, 2022.
Do you have a drug conviction lingering on your record from your college days? Or perhaps you were charged with a drug crime, but the prosecutor later dropped it, or you were acquitted. Either way, the drug charge is still hanging over your head. No matter how it got there, you have probably thought about clearing it from your record a time or two. Most drug charges are not crimes of the century. However, they can haunt you on each job interview, loan application, or school enrollment form. If you are ready for a clean slate, contact our experienced expungement lawyers at Eskew Law to get started.
What Is an Expungement?
Before diving deeper into the specifics of expunging a drug charge, it is essential to understand what an expungement is. Expungement is when a criminal conviction record is destroyed or sealed from state or federal records. Most expungement proceedings occur in state courts. Therefore, every state has its own set of laws governing the process. Some states have minimal opportunity for expungement, while others offer a more generous approach.
You may often hear the terms expunging and sealing used interchangeably, and while they both have the same general premise to remove a criminal record, they are somewhat different. Expunging erases or destroys the record entirely. Sealing generally hides it from public view, but the record may still be accessible by particular government and private agencies.
Indiana Drug Possession Expungement
If and when you can get your Indiana drug charge expunged from your record will depend primarily on whether it was a misdemeanor or felony charge. Many simple possession charges are misdemeanor offenses.
Misdemeanor Drug Crime Expungement
In Indiana, you can generally have misdemeanor convictions expunged if:
- It has been five years from the date of conviction;
- You have no further convictions in the interim; and
- You paid all necessary fines, fees, costs, and restitution.
If it has yet to be five years from your conviction date, the offense may still qualify for earlier expungement if the prosecutor agrees in writing to the shorter time frame.
Importantly, these requirements also apply to Class D felonies (committed before July 1, 2014) and Level 6 felonies (committed after June 30, 2014) that were then reduced to a misdemeanor offense by the court.
Felony Drug Crime Expungement
In Indiana, most felonies are expungeable. However, some are not. Specifically, the Indiana code states expungement is not available for sex offenders or violent offenders, or persons convicted of official misconduct, homicide offenses, or human and sexual trafficking offenses.
Non-Violent Drug Felony
Most drug charges, alone, without other companion charges, are non-violent and less severe.
Under Indiana law, less serious felony offenses may be expunged if:
- It has been eight years from the date of the conviction;
- You have no currently pending criminal charges;
- You have paid all your fines, fees, court costs, and restitution; and
- You have had no other convictions within the previous eight-year timeframe.
Like a misdemeanor offense, if it has not yet been eight years from your conviction, you may have the felony expunged only if the prosecutor agrees in writing.
Serious Drug Crimes
If you were convicted of a serious crime, including a drug crime, you might still be eligible for an expungement. However, the decision is at the court’s discretion. In other words, the court can still deny the application even if you file the necessary paperwork and wait the prescribed period.
Here, you must have a strong argument as to why you should be granted an expungement. It is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney for this process, as you will likely be required to appear before the court and persuade the judge of your position.
If your expungement is ultimately denied, you can reapply, as to that offense, in three years.
Expunging an Arrest with No Conviction
It is common to face a drug offense that is later dismissed. Either the prosecutor voluntarily drops the charges, or perhaps you were found not guilty. Whatever the circumstance, you will not have a conviction on your record, but the arrest and accusation will remain. However, unlike convictions, you can expunge an arrest record after only one year.
Notably, the one-year waiting period also applies to juvenile delinquency adjudications.
The drug crime expungement process can vary from case to case, depending on the circumstances. However, typically the process is as follows:
- Gather necessary and supporting documents,
- Complete the petition application,
- Serve the required agencies, and
- Obtain and attend a hearing if the court directs.
An attorney can help streamline the application and smooth the process.
Eskew Law Is Here for You
If you are ready to rid the black cloud hanging over your shoulder, it’s time to file for an expungement. Your next question may be, How to get a drug charge expunged from your record? At Eskew Law, we have assisted clients through the process from inception to final expungement orders. We believe everyone deserves a second chance, and our client-focused approach is just what you need to help you make a fresh start. Contact us today to get started on your petition!
How Many Times Can I Expunge My Record?
Under Indiana law, you may expunge your criminal record only once in your lifetime, meaning you must ensure you do not find yourself in any further hot water after you have already obtained an expungement.
Do I Need an Attorney to File My Expungement Petition?
While there is no requirement that you must have an attorney to file an expungement conviction, we highly recommend it. The expungement process can be complex, with cumbersome notice and service requirements, precise paperwork, and timelines. Even a slight mistake can cost you time and money.
How Long Is the Process of Expunging My Drug Charge?
Once you have met the necessary waiting period and submitted your petition for expungement, the process will generally take several weeks to a few months. It depends on your circumstances and how straightforward or involved your petition is. Upon meeting with one of our lawyers, they can give you a better sense of how long your particular petition may take from start to finish.