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EXPUNGEMENT and/or SEALING of Criminal Records

     Getting a felony expunged Indiana for whatever reason in Indiana definitely has its advantages since Indiana law has changed.

Benefits of Felony Expungement

     You avoid problems related to criminal background checks, which may impact your employment opportunities or eligibility for credit. You may experience benefits associated with any professional licenses you hold, which may otherwise become suspended or revoked due to a felony conviction; You can restore your Second Amendment rights to own firearms. In many cases, a convicted felon becomes prohibited from owning, possessing, or controlling a firearm;

     Keep your financial benefits under a scholarship or educational assistance program, that you could lose or no longer qualify for with a conviction on your record; and, No longer live with the stigma and questionable reputation that accompanies having a criminal record. 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 complicated 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:

You were arrested, but charges were dropped because of mistaken identity; You were arrested, but charges became 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: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor charge, 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 that are 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, but 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 there was a victim involved with your crime, the prosecutor will give this person notice that you are petitioning to expunge the crime from your record.

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

If you were convicted of a criminal offense, this form of “expungement” is called SEALING.

The records do not actually get destroyed; however they are SEALED so that no one can see them, EXCEPT for a few.