Published in Criminal Law by Carey York on February 1, 2024.
If you have a criminal record, it can follow you throughout your entire life. It can impact future opportunities for jobs and housing, child custody matters, driving privileges, voting rights, and the right to own and carry a firearm, among others.
There are options for expunging or sealing your criminal history, depending upon the type of charges you were found guilty of, and other factors.
At Eskew Law, our criminal defense attorneys have many years of experience handling expungements and a deep knowledge of Indiana law. Here, we explain the basics of expungement in Indiana and answer some frequently asked questions about expunging criminal records.
What is Expungement in Indiana?
First, let’s look at what expungement means. The true definition of expungement means to expel or erase. The term expungement can be somewhat misleading, as it may be interpreted as criminal records can be completely erased, however, this is not the case. With a successful expungement in Indiana, access to your criminal record would be restricted from anyone outside of government agencies, such as courts, prosecutors, or law enforcement.
Expungement in Indiana is essentially the legal process for sealing your criminal history records. According to IC 35-38-5-5, a Petition to Restrict Access (Petition to limit access to limited criminal history of a person discharged from probation, imprisonment, or parole) would need to be filed with the court to start the expungement process.
Indiana Second Chance Law
In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation permitting individuals to seal portions of their criminal record. If successful, any case that has been restricted will not show on a criminal background check by organizations or individuals outside of criminal justice agencies or law enforcement. Although the Indiana Second Chance Law has been nicknamed the “expungement law,” it only restricts access to criminal records. It does not erase a person’s criminal history.
If I File for an Expungement, Will it Show on a Criminal Background Check?
If a Petition to Restrict Access is granted by a court, any records expunged or sealed will not show up on background checks performed by noncriminal agencies or individuals. This means that potential employers, landlords, lending agents, educational institutions, or public records searches such as Indiana MyCase, will not have access to any sealed criminal records.
It is important to understand that not all crimes can be expunged or sealed. Some factors the court considers are the type of offense that was committed and the amount of time that has passed since the arrest, charge, or conviction. IC 35-38-9 explains the different types of criminal records that are eligible for expungement, including arrest records, misdemeanor convictions, Level 6 felonies, and some higher-level felonies.
Some offenses are not eligible for expungement under any circumstances. These include, but are not limited to, sex or violent offenses, homicide, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, and offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon.
It is essential to consult with an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney to discuss your eligibility for expungement.
How Long Do I Have to Wait to File an Expungement?
Unfortunately, some time must pass before you can file for an expungement, even with eligible circumstances.
The waiting period to file for an expungement in Indiana varies based on the level and type of offense.
For arrests or charges, the waiting period is one year. For misdemeanors and lower-level felonies that have been reduced to misdemeanors, the waiting period is five years. Class D and Level 6 felonies carry an eight-year waiting period. For major felonies that meet expungement eligibility requirements, you must wait eight years after the conviction or three years after you have completed your sentence, whichever is later.
Other conditions for expungement must be met outside of the designated waiting period of the criminal history you are trying to seal. These conditions can include successful completion of a pretrial diversion, no convictions in the year before filing for an expungement, no pending criminal charges, and others.
Contact Our Attorneys to Schedule a Consultation
During your initial consultation, we will assess your case, explain the law, and discuss your options and eligibility.
Are you looking to have an offense expunged from your record? Contact the experienced attorneys at Eskew Law today.