LEGALLY BRIEF: Expungement – A Second Chance

Expungement laws in Indiana are designed to provide individuals with an opportunity to seal certain criminal records. This can be critical to survivors of domestic violence as it helps reduce barriers that survivors face. Past criminal records are known to be barriers to employment, housing, and other aspects long after the abuse has ended. Expunging past criminal records can help survivors take control of their narrative.

There are some general guidelines to consider around eligibility for expungement. There is typically a waiting period before a person becomes eligible to petition for expungement. For arrests that did not result in convictions, the waiting period is one year after the date of arrest. For most misdemeanor convictions the waiting period is five years from the date of the most recent conviction. For felony convictions, the waiting period is eight years from the date of the most recent conviction. The caveat is that a prosecutor can consent to a reduced waiting time period.

Certain types of offenses such as homicide convictions, human and sexual trafficking, sex or violent offenses and official misconduct may not be eligible for expungement.

Eligible individuals must file a petition for expungement with the court where the conviction occurred. The statute lays out clearly what needs to be in the petition. Among other things such as personal details of the petitioner, it must include details of the conviction, completion of sentence or probation (if any). Once the petition is filed the court could set it for hearing, deny without hearing if the pleading is deficient or grant relief without a hearing if the prosecutor did not object or waived an objection.

Lastly, expungement laws seal and restrict access to the general public but these records are still accessible to law enforcement and certain government agencies. It is important to note that you are only eligible to expungement all arrests and/or criminal convictions ONCE.

If you are a domestic violence survivor and believe you could benefit from this law, please feel free to reach out to the legal team at ICADV. Additional information can also be found on our website here. Find an eviction expungement helper here.

ICADV’s Legal Team periodically offers clinics to aid in the expungement process for evictions and protective orders, among other topics. Take a look at our Training and Events calendar to see when these trainings occur throughout the year.

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