Having a criminal record makes most people feel as if they have a dark secret, a skeleton in the closet that causes anxiety that someone will “find out.” In fact, many housing, education, career, and credit situations require that such a record be disclosed, thereby limiting opportunities. Sealing those records through expungement can be a very appealing option, but the process is a complicated one.
Whether you have been arrested or convicted, come to the Indiana criminal defense attorneys at McNeely Stephenson to discuss your options. We understand what you’re going through, and we have helped hundreds of people who have been where you are now. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we represent clients throughout Kentuckiana who want to take advantage of Indiana’s second-chance law. We have the necessary knowledge to determine your eligibility, the experience to thoroughly review your situation, and the skill to guide you through the process. We are committed to helping those who may find themselves dealing with past consequences. Talk to us and find out how we can help you. Call 812-725-8224 or fill out our online form.
What is expungement?
The word “expungement” has its roots in Latin and means to remove something completely. If a petition for an expungement is granted, it becomes as though the arrest, charge, or conviction never happened. The law varies from state to state as to which records can be expunged. In 2012, Indiana’s expungement law underwent major revisions in an effort to help law-abiding citizens move on from a mistake. Popularly known as the “Second Chance Law,” these provisions have since been amended to increase the pool of offenders who are eligible to apply.
What records qualify for expungement?
Convictions involving serious violence (murder), public corruption, sex crimes, and human trafficking are not eligible for expungement. Also, the records of people who have acquired two or more unrelated felony offenses that involved the unlawful use of a deadly weapon are not eligible for expungement. Otherwise:
- Misdemeanors– You must wait five years from the date of conviction, have no pending criminal charges, and be free of conviction of any crimes within the prior five years.
- Level 6 Felonies (formerly Class D) – You must wait eight years from the date of conviction, have no pending criminal charges, and be free of conviction of any crimes within the prior eight years. You also must have an active driver’s license and must be able to show that you have paid all the court-ordered fees that were imposed with the conviction.
- Non-Violent Level 1 – 5 Felonies (formerly Class A, Class B, and Class C Felonies) – You must wait the longer of eight years or three years after the sentence was completed. You cannot have any charges pending against you, any convictions during the eight-year period, or a suspended driver’s license. You also must be able to show that you have paid all the fees.
- Violent Felonies (those that resulted in serious bodily harm to another person) – You must wait the longer of ten years or five years after the sentence was finished. Again, you cannot have any charges pending against you, any convictions during the ten-year period, or a suspended driver’s license. You also must be able to show that you have paid all the fees. An additional hurdle is that the prosecutor must consent in writing to the expungement.
There is a filing fee to petition for an expungement of a conviction. However, where the person is only filing seeking to expunge an arrest or charges filed that did not lead to a conviction, no filing fee is required. The petition can seek to expunge more than one conviction, but expungement can be granted only once in a person’s lifetime. If the petition is denied, the offender cannot reapply for three years and can only seek to expunge the convictions that were listed in the original petition.
If the court grants the petition and issues an expungement order, records not resulting in conviction, records of misdemeanors, and records of Level 6/Class D felonies are automatically sealed. The information will not appear on state background checks, and both paper and computerized records are visible only to court personnel. Even a prosecutor may not access a sealed record without a court order. If the court order concerns a higher felony, the record remains public, but must be clearly marked “Expunged.” Once a petition is granted, a person is legally allowed to answer that he or she has never been convicted of a crime. It is unlawful discrimination for any potential employer to refuse to hire a person because of an arrest or conviction record that has been expunged or sealed.
Let us help
The Indiana expungement lawyers at McNeely Stephenson understand that everyone makes mistakes, but believe that those bad choices should not prevent the opportunity for a fresh start. It seems unfair that some missteps should follow a person forever, denying him or her chances at housing, credit, employment, or education. We have what it takes to ensure that clients get the effective representation that they deserve, starting with filing a properly drafted petition..
We know how the Indiana criminal justice system operates and how to navigate the expungement maze. It is wise to speak with an attorney if you are considering expungement, because if your petition is denied or only partly granted, it cannot be refiled and you could be permanently barred from relief. Don’t take that gamble. To get more information and explore your options, contact McNeely Stephenson today by calling 812-725-8224 or filling out our online form. The initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose. Whatever the specifics of your case, we are relentless in fighting for you.