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Expungement of your criminal record under the Indiana Second Chance Expungement Law has become much easier in recent years.  If you are interested in speaking to an Indianapolis Expungement lawyer about having your criminal record expunged under the Indiana Expungement Law, for a criminal felony, criminal misdemeanor, or DCS case, please  call 317-695-7700 or email me at jeffcardella@cardellalawoffice.com  If you are emailing me, make sure to include your date of birth and spelling of your name as it appears on mycase.in.gov

I do not recommend that anyone represent themselves in Court if they are not a licensed attorney. Even the simplest legal matter can be bungled by inexperience with the Indiana Rules of Procedure. While I do not advise representing yourself in any Court proceeding, for those people who are considering representing themselves, the following Indiana expungement tips and tricks may be of assistance:

  • Understand what can be expunged: Not all offenses qualify for expungement in Indiana. You can generally expunge misdemeanors and certain felonies. However, there are exceptions, such as violent crimes or sex offenses.  
  • Understand and meet the eligibility requirements: Before beginning the expungement process, ensure you meet Indiana’s eligibility criteria. Typically, this involves completing your sentence, including probation and paying all fines and restitution. In addition to the type of offense, there are other eligibility requirements. You must have completed your sentence, probation, and parole (if applicable), and you cannot have any pending charges. There is also a waiting period, which varies depending on the offense.
  • Gather your documents: If you are considering doing your own expungement, it is good idea to gather various for your petition, including copies of your arrest and court records, proof that you have completed your sentence, and documentation of any fees or restitution that has been paid.
  • Pay the filing fee: There is a filing fee associated with expungement petitions in Indiana.  
  • Serve notice on the prosecutor: You must serve notice of your petition on the prosecutor’s office in the county where your case was filed.
  • Attend your hearing: If the court schedules a hearing on your petition, you must attend. Be prepared to answer the judge’s questions about your case and why you want your record expunged.
  • Be patient: The expungement process can take several months, so be patient.
  • Consider getting help from an attorney: An attorney can help you navigate the expungement process and ensure that your petition is filed correctly.
  • Review Expungement Laws: Familiarize yourself with Indiana’s expungement laws and the Indiana Rules of Procedure. This will help you understand the process and any specific requirements you need to meet. Additionally, make sure to understand any local rules that are specific to your county. A copy of the local rules can be obtained from the Court.
  • Include a Strong Statement: Along with your petition, include a compelling personal statement detailing why you seek expungement and how it will positively impact your life.
  • Consider Record Sealing: In addition to expungement, explore the option of record sealing for offenses that don’t qualify for expungement. Sealing your record can still provide some level of relief from past convictions.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of any updates or changes to Indiana’s expungement laws. Legislation can evolve, potentially affecting your eligibility or the expungement process.
  • Remember, expungement can be a complex legal process, so it’s essential to approach it with diligence and attention to detail.

The history of expungement in Indiana reflects broader societal shifts in attitudes towards rehabilitation, criminal justice reform, and the recognition of second chances. Over the years, Indiana has made significant strides in providing individuals with opportunities to expunge their criminal records, thereby allowing them to move forward with their lives free from the stigma of past mistakes.

The concept of expungement, or the sealing of criminal records, traces its roots back to early legal systems where the idea of redemption and forgiveness played a role in justice. In Indiana, as in many other states, expungement laws have evolved over time in response to changing societal norms, legal precedents, and the recognition of the barriers faced by individuals with criminal records.

One pivotal moment in the history of expungement in Indiana came with the passage of the Second Chance Act in 2013. This legislation marked a significant shift in the state’s approach to criminal records, offering a pathway for individuals with certain low-level felony and misdemeanor convictions to petition the court for expungement. The Second Chance Act aimed to provide these individuals with an opportunity to re-enter society, gain meaningful employment, and rebuild their lives.

Prior to the Second Chance Act, Indiana’s expungement laws were more restrictive, often leaving individuals with criminal records facing significant barriers to employment, housing, and other opportunities. The passage of this legislation represented a recognition of the importance of giving individuals a second chance and acknowledging the potential for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

The Second Chance Act established a framework for expungement in Indiana, outlining eligibility criteria, waiting periods, and the process for petitioning the court. Under the law, individuals convicted of certain felonies and misdemeanors could petition to have their records expunged if they met specific requirements, such as completing their sentence, remaining crime-free for a designated period, and fulfilling any other conditions imposed by the court.

The passage of the Second Chance Act was met with both praise and criticism. Supporters lauded the law for its recognition of the importance of rehabilitation and the need to remove barriers to re-entry for individuals with criminal records. They argued that expungement could significantly improve outcomes for these individuals, reducing recidivism rates and promoting public safety.

However, critics raised concerns about the potential implications of expungement, including issues related to public safety, victim rights, and the integrity of the criminal justice system. Some argued that certain offenses should not be eligible for expungement, particularly those involving violence or sexual misconduct. Others expressed concerns about the impact of expungement on employers, landlords, and other entities that rely on criminal background checks.

Despite these concerns, the Second Chance Act represented a significant step forward in Indiana’s approach to expungement, laying the groundwork for subsequent reforms and improvements to the expungement process. In the years following the passage of the Second Chance Act, Indiana continued to refine its expungement laws, expanding eligibility criteria, reducing waiting periods, and streamlining the petition process.

One notable development in Indiana’s expungement laws came with the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 75 in 2019. This legislation made several important changes to the expungement process, including expanding eligibility to include certain additional felony offenses, reducing waiting periods for expungement, and providing additional protections for individuals seeking expungement.

Senate Enrolled Act 75 represented a continuation of Indiana’s efforts to provide individuals with opportunities to expunge their criminal records and move forward with their lives. By expanding eligibility and streamlining the expungement process, the law aimed to further reduce barriers to re-entry and promote successful rehabilitation for individuals with criminal records.

In addition to legislative changes, Indiana’s expungement laws have also been shaped by legal precedent and court decisions. Over the years, courts have interpreted and applied expungement statutes, establishing guidelines and procedures for expungement petitions. These legal developments have played a crucial role in shaping the expungement process and ensuring that it operates fairly and effectively.

Looking ahead, the future of expungement in Indiana is likely to be influenced by ongoing efforts to reform the criminal justice system, address disparities in the administration of justice, and promote rehabilitation and reintegration for individuals with criminal records. As attitudes towards criminal justice continue to evolve, Indiana will likely continue to explore ways to expand access to expungement and provide individuals with the opportunity for a second chance.