An ongoing series of informational entries

Expungement — Post-Conviction Records

In Re: The Petition for Expungement of Conviction Records of: B.S. v. State of Indiana


March 5, 2018

The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned the denial of a man’s request for expungement of his post-conviction relief proceedings after determining the Allen Superior Court erred in finding PCR records are not covered by Indiana’s expungement statutes.

After being convicted of a Class A misdemeanor in April 2011, B.S. was granted post-conviction relief in August 2010. B.S. then petitioned to expunge all records related to his misdemeanor conviction in July 2017, but the Allen Superior Court agreed to expunge only the records related to his conviction, not the PCR proceedings.

The trial court found post-conviction proceedings could not be expunged under Indiana Code section 35-38-9-1, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed. Judge Melissa May, writing on an issue of first impression, said the relevant statute states “no information” related to expunged cases can be maintained, and “any records” must be sealed or redacted.

“Here, the intent and the policy underlying Indiana Code section 35-38-9-1 are the same as the intent and policy analyzed in (J.B. v. State, 558 N.E.3d 336 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015)), i.e., expungement allows an individual, who satisfies certain criteria, to escape the stigma of a criminal conviction by ‘sealing off the paper trail establishing that there ever was a conviction,’” May wrote. “B.S. because he qualifies for expungement under the statute, is able to escape the stigma of his now-overturned criminal conviction; however, in order to do so, all records pertaining to that conviction must be sealed.”

Thus, the appellate court reversed the partial denial of B.S.’s expungement petition and remanded In Re: The Petition for Expungement of Conviction Records of: B.S. v. State of Indiana, 02A05-1710-XP-2262, with instructions to issue a new order in accordance with its opinion.


Public Intoxication/Evidence

Jeffrey S. Morris v. State of Indiana


March 7, 2018

A Knox County man convicted of public intoxication after being found in public wearing only underwear has won his appeal after the Indiana Court of Appeals found insufficient evidence to support the Class B misdemeanor.

In Jeffrey S. Morris v. State of Indiana, 42A05-1709-CR-2059, Vincennes police were dispatched in June 2017 to investigate a report of a man wearing only underwear in public. When Officer Robert Hammond arrived at the scene, he found Jeffrey Morris standing in the road in his underwear, sweating and displaying signs of paranoia.

Though Hammond instructed Morris to stay in his house, he received four more calls about Morris’ behavior on the same day. He eventually arrested Morris for public intoxication and testified during the ensuing trial about his belief that Morris was “potentially under the influence of bath salts.”

Based on that testimony, the Knox Superior Court entered judgment against Morris for a Class B misdemeanor. The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, reversed that conviction, with Judge Melissa May writing the state failed to prove Morris was under the influence of a controlled substance.

“Officer Hammond described Morris as ‘profusely sweating … and acting paranoid,’ and testified he believed Morris was ‘potentially under the influence of bath salts,’” May wrote. “While bath salts can contain a controlled substance, our system of justice does not permit citizens to be convicted of potential illegality.”

The state could have proven Morris was intoxicated by a controlled substance through chemical testing or the testimony of an expert witness, May said, but no such evidence was offered. Thus, the appellate court reversed Morris’ conviction.