Published in Criminal Law on February 27, 2019.
Felony expungment in Indiana requires a petition to the Court to prove your eligibility.
The process can be convoluted and difficult to navigate without an attorney who knows what they’re doing.
There are significant advantages to expunging a felony, especially considering the implications of recent changes in the law.
Bearing in mind the advantages of expunging a felony conviction, you likely want to know what the process entails and how to start right away.
On the surface, expungement of a felony seems easy: Simply fill out the forms provided by the Indiana Judicial Branch. However, the process is much more extensive and complex than jotting down some basic information.
Here’s what you need to know about getting a felony expunged, along with some recommendations on why it is a smart move to retain an experienced Indiana expungement attorney for assistance.
Determine Whether You Qualify for Expungement in Indiana
There are two approaches to cleaning up your criminal record, so you must first understand the difference between them and determine which laws apply to your situation.
- Expungement is completely erasing your criminal record. General eligibility rules include:
- Police arrested you, but the Court dropped charges because of mistaken identity;
- You were arrested, but charges were dropped because you did not commit the crime or police did not have probable cause to arrest you.
If you qualify, you may file a petition for expungement one year after the date of the arrest, as separate from the date of the acquittal or dismissal of charges.
- Restricted Access means that only certain agencies, like criminal justice authorities and child service organizations, have access to your criminal record. You may qualify for restricted access if:
- You were arrested, but not charged with a crime within 30 days afterward; or,
- You were acquitted of all charges.
Expunging Specific Types of Convictions
Aside from these general eligibility laws on expungement below, there are additional rules that apply depending on the nature of the crime.
- Misdemeanor Convictions. For misdemeanor convictions, you may qualify for expungement if you have completed the conditions of your sentence and five years have passed since the date of conviction. This rule also applies to Class D or Level 6 felonies reduced to misdemeanors under Indiana law.
- Class D Felony Convictions without Bodily Injury. For a conviction on a Class D felony that did not include bodily injury, you qualify for expungement if you have met the terms of your sentence and eight years have passed since the date you were convicted.
- Class A, B, or C Felony Convictions without Bodily Injury. With these more serious felonies, that do not cause injury to others, you generally qualify for expungement if all terms of the sentence have been satisfied and :
- Eight years have passed since the date of conviction; or
- Three years have elapsed since you completed the conditions of your sentence, whichever period is longer
- Felony Convictions With Bodily Injury. When you have caused harm to another person, it is much more difficult to expunge a felony conviction in Indiana. You must wait ten years from the date of conviction, and you must have satisfied the conditions of your conviction at least five years before filing your petition.
In addition, you must contact the prosecutor to determine their position on the expungement. Obtaining the consent of the prosecutor can also be challenging in certain situations.
Petition for Expungement Process
The specifics will depend on the details of your case. You initiate the process by filing a petition establishing that you are eligible to have your record expunged.
You must provide the prosecuting attorney with a copy of the petition and supporting documents, and he or she has 30 days to respond.
If your crime involved a victim, the prosecutor will give this person notice of your petition for expungement.
The complainant may provide the court with a statement, but the judge will decide whether the information affects your case.
Keep in mind that there are different standards of proof for more serious felonies. Your petition must establish that you become entitled to relief by a preponderance of the evidence. This standard can make expunging these types of offenses more difficult.
Implications of Expunged Records
When convicted of a criminal offense, “expungement” is similar to record sealing. Nobody actually destroys your records/documents. Instead, Courts seal the record so nobody can see them except for a few limited exceptions. Therefore:
- No one can gain access to your records without a court order;
- The court must seal all documents related to your case;
- Indiana law enforcement must seal your file and prevent access through all criminal history databases; and
- All civil rights affected by your conviction become restored, including your right to vote, to hold public office, and to serve as a juror.
Retain Legal Counsel For Felony Expungement
If you believe you qualify and want to initiate the expungement of a felony process, it is critical to retain an experienced attorney for assistance.
You may not get a second chance if there are any mistakes or inconsistencies with your petition.
For more information on expunging a felony, please contact the offices of Eskew Law in Indianapolis, IN.