New Indiana Expungement Law Gives Convicted A Second Chance
In the past, the state of Indiana has had very limited expungement statutes insofar as they have only assisted those who were arrested, but not convicted. Fortunately, the Indiana State legislature took the strict boundaries of the old statute into consideration and a new, fresh version of the past statute took effect on July 1, 2011.
The statute, signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels, allows individuals who committed non-violent offenses to request that their criminal records be sealed from all but law enforcement agencies (the police may still see the records). The law, which was changed under the Housing Enrolled Act (HEA) 1211, was authored by Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero) in order to help people with minor criminal records receive less scrutiny when finding employment as well as to help those pursuing educational goals. In fact, the statute is known around Indiana as the â€śSecond Chance Act.â€ť State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), who co-sponsored the Act, stated â€śwe need to give those who have made a mistake and paid their debt to society a second chance to elevate their lives and provide for their families. Under the current law, a lot of these individuals are kept from meeting their full potential due to a prior conviction that trails them.â€ť
Eligible persons convicted of non-violent offenses may now petition to a court to limit the access of their criminal records once 8 or more years have passed since their release from prison and from parole. It is important to note that the new law limits the eligibility to misdemeanor or Class D felony convictions (i.e., minor drug offenses, and other crimes that did not injure another person), neither which are classified as sex or violent crimes, to those individuals who have NOT been convicted of a felony since the completion of their last sentence.
The statute now also applies to those who were charged with crimes but were not convicted. The statute permits these persons to request from a court to restrict access to certain criminal records if: the individual was not prosecuted; the charges were dismissed; the individual was convicted of a crime, but the conviction was vacated; or the person was acquitted at trial. If the court orders an individualâ€™s criminal record to be restricted, the person may in fact legally state on an employment application (or any other document unrelated to the criminal justice system)that they have not been arrested for or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Persons not convicted of criminal charges are eligible to petition the restriction of their records within 30 days to one year depending on their unique situation.
The Indiana legislature has enacted this new statute in order to wipe out the negative effects of Indianaâ€™s limited expungement statute which greatly disadvantaged both those who were convicted and those who were not convicted of non-violent crimes. Due to their criminal records, these individuals were placed at a great disadvantage in not only the national job market, but also within their own communities, and society in general. America is known as the land of opportunity and the Indiana legislature has taken into consideration the negative effects this law has had on the vast opportunities of its citizens. The law stands strong to its name and may overtime answer unanswered questions not addressed on the face of the statute. Now eligible person will no longer be viewed negatively within society as these changes within the State of Indianaâ€™s legal structure will ensure a true second chance to those who have made mistakes and paid for them, to start their lives and begin positively impacting their family units as well as their communities.