If the person meets the statutory requirements, the court shall grant the petition for misdemeanor and D felony convictions. The law also allows for a person who was convinced of a more serious felony to petition the court. The law also allows for a person who was convicted of a more serious felony to petition the court. However, the decision to expunge more serious felonies is at the discretion of the court.
While you can complete a petition and file it on your own, lawmakers encourage individuals to seek legal advice, if not hire legal counsel, before filing. The reason for this recommendation is the strict guidelines involved in properly filling out these petitions. Failure to fill out the petition properly can cause it to be tossed out of court. A petitioner may have to wait for at least three years before filing again. If the petitioner has multiple charges or arrests, not including each offense in the petition can cause it to be denied forever for expungement. Also important to note is that records can only be expunged once in a person’s lifetime.
Now while we at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission have no enforcement or direct oversight of this law, I did find it necessary to provide some clarification as it will likely affect a number of folks we work with.
This law provides ex-offenders a greater opportunity to find employment. Multiple studies have found, and countless individuals statewide can attest, that having a criminal record severely limits getting a job. If an individual has demonstrated they have learned from their mistakes and gone through the necessary process (and waiting period) this law can truly provide a “second chance”.
As always, we are here to help. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination call us at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at (317) 232-2600 or visit: www.in.gov. If you or your organization would like training on the state’s civil rights laws please also feel free to contact us.
Jamal L. Smith is the Executive Director for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).