If you’re wondering how to expunge your Indiana DUI conviction or other B or C felony convictions in 2015 under the new Indiana expungement law, this post will provide you some insight on what you need to know before you start the process.
Indiana’s criminal expungement & arrest record law has recently changed again in 2014. These 2014 changes occurred after Indiana Code 35-38-9-1 et seq. replaced the old statute as of July 1, 2013, and the new statute is now known informally as “Indiana’s Second Chance Law.” These changes have opened up a range of expungement possibilities for those who were not eligible under the previous statute, which was one of the most restrictive in the United States.
Under the old law, only narrow categories of felonies were eligible for expungement, such as criminal charges later dismissed, vacated convictions, and those who were acquitted. Essentially, this law had only allowed expungement for those who had not been convicted. It was simply an arrest expungement rather than a conviction expungement.
With the July 1, 2013 and 2014 changes to the Indiana Code, this was expanded to encompass conviction expungements, and now many more people are eligible for expungement in the state of Indiana. While the new law is much more expansive and gives more people a second chance to remove convictions from their records, there are some exceptions and requirements.
Under the new Indiana expungement law, there are different requirements depending upon the nature and time of the conviction. Although this post will provide a basic overview of the current state of the law, each case is unique, and you may wish to consult an attorney to assist you with the process and your specific circumstances if you are not comfortable proceeding pro se, as there have been reports of confusion with the new Indiana expungement process.
An individual may only petition for one Indiana expungement in their lifetime, so it’s important to do it correctly. If a petition is denied by the court for any reason (including procedural reasons), it cannot be re-filed nor can a new petition be filed requesting the same criminal cases to be expunged.
With that said, let’s take a look at what’s important to know about Indiana’s new arrest and felony conviction expungement law…
Misdemeanors – To be eligible for expungement of a misdemeanor, you must wait five years from the date of conviction, have no pending criminal charges, and no convictions within the prior 5 years.
Class D Felonies – To be eligible for expungement of a Class D felony in the state of Indiana, you must wait 8 years from the date of conviction, not have a suspended driver’s license, and no pending charges or convictions in the prior 8 years. You must also be able to show that you have met all court-ordered fee requirements of the conviction. Violent crimes and/or sexual offenses are not eligible for expungement.
Non-Violent (Class A, Class B, and Class C) Felonies - To be eligible for expungement of one of these major felonies, the waiting period is the later of 8 years or 3 years after completion of the sentence, with no pending charges or convictions during that 8 year period and no presently suspended driver’s license. Additionally, the applicant being able to show satisfaction of all court-ordered fee requirements of the conviction. Again, violent crimes and sexual offenses are not eligible for expungement.
Violent Felonies – To be eligible for expungement of a violent felony criminal conviction (those that resulted in serious bodily harm to another person), the waiting period is the later of 10 years or 5 years after the completion of the sentence. Like the other felonies, petitioners here must have no pending charges or convictions during the 10 year period, must have no driver’s license suspension, and be able to show satisfaction of all court fees and restitution, if any. Certain violent and sexual offenses are never eligible for expungement. Finally, the prosecutor must consent in writing to the expungement.
There are some additional caveats and requirements, as is always the case when summarizing a thorough law. For instance, elected officials who otherwise meet the above eligibility standards must instead wait the later of 10 years or 5 years from the completion of their sentence in order to be eligible for expungement, and must have the consent of the prosecutor. There are also some instances when the prosecutor may consent to a shorter waiting period.
These expungements are not automatic once you’ve waited the appropriate number of years after conviction. Rather, you must file a petition in the county where you were originally convicted. If you have multiple convictions that are eligible for expungement in the same county, these can be made in a single petition. Following the 2014 changes, indigent petitioners now may be eligible for waived or reduced filing fees.
If you have convictions in multiple counties you want expunged, you will have to file the petitions in each such county, with all of these petitions filed in the same 1 year window being treated as a “single” petition for the purposes of the law only allowing a single expungement in a person’s lifetime.
If your Indiana expungement petition is for some reason denied, you will be required to wait 3 years before petitioning for expungement again.
Once an individual receives an expungement, any lost civil rights are restored, and potential employers are prohibited from inquiring about the expunged conviction. Although it’s known as Indiana’s Expungement Law, the “Second Chance Law” nickname is more appropriate because any case that has been restricted will not show up on a criminal history check by non-criminal justice organizations or individuals and will be considered expunged for all purposes except disposition of the records. Criminal justice agencies like the court, prosecutor, and police continue to have access to these records, meaning that the access to criminal information is restricted to criminal justice agencies and not erased completely.
DISCLAIMER: Consulting an attorney for professional advice and assistance specific to your unique circumstances and legal issues may be helpful to you. The above is a blog post written to provide an easier-to-understand summary of the pertinent section of the law as it existed at the time of this post. This post should not be misconstrued as offering legal advice for your specific circumstances, nor is it meant to replace actual, comprehensive legal advice you may wish to receive from a qualified attorney.