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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 “Second Chance Act.” State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), who co-sponsored the Act, stated “we 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.”

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 individual’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 Indiana’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 Indiana’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.

Written by Miko Sargizan

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27 Responses Leave a comment

  1. Old Folks says:

    I wonder if the good people in the Indiana legislature are aware that a bill introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee, H.R.2449 the “Fresh Start Act of 2011” which provides a path for expungement for first time non-violent federal felony offenses, also has a provision providing monetary incentives to states who take similar action regarding state offenses.

    This is a very positive move by Indiana. Kudos to their legislative body. Now, everyone contact your U.S. Congressmen and urge them to co-sponsor and support the Cohen bill. It will help countless ex-offenders and it will help the state of Indiana. Win, win!!!!!!!

  2. Mel says:

    Why don’t lawmakers take a larger step toward REALLY helping people by simply passing legislation making it illegal for employers to deny employment to someone with a misdemeanor? It’s called misdemeanor for a reason. It is less serious than a felony.

    • Steve says:

      That would be nice but that would require employers to hire everyone who has a misdemeanor. And a misdemeanor is not less serious than a felony. Do you know what “conversion” is? It is just like saying “theft.” The difference is theft is a felony and conversion is a misdemeanor. Same thing but different type of charge. If i steal a pair of shoes and they give me a misdemeanor, then i get charged with conversion. u steal the same pair of shoes and they give you a felony, then you get charged with theft. Now we are talking about the same crime. So where is the seriousness.

      • jess says:

        I have a class D felony for theft and it’s seriously limiting me. Can’t even become a manager at my work because of my felony… even though every previous manager at my work got fired for…. STEALING, and did they have any felonies or misdemeanors… NOPE. Its been four years since I’ve been in trouble with the law and I still cant get a promotion at a fast food restaurant…. I just find this bizarre. I was was 18 and stupid…

  3. David says:

    Kudos for good sense and foresight. Perhaps, all those under 18 who have been tried and convicted as adults should qualify for the second chance program.

    • D.L. Walker says:

      Here in Indiana I was I believe the first to be automatically waived to an adult I was 16 turned 17, 3 months before signing a plea bargain for a B felony dealing cocaine earlier that year they passed the law of exempt status for life for food assistance programs,it was an election year, set up by the drug task force, legally I was trafficing, but that doesn’t exist in the state of indiana it has been more years since conviction than how old I was at conviction, I don’t count as a member of my family which is growing, and my family is made to suffer for a mistake I made when I was 16 y/o. How long before I’m forced to steal or make some other reckless mistake to insure my family doesn’t starve. It’s an unfair and undeserving law, that needs to be changed.

  4. Brackie says:

    Its been 6 to 7 years since my charges I have a misdemeanor in possession of marijuana and im looking to get it expunged off my record to work on the boarder patrol or coast guard with my father that just retired from the army can I get it off so they can’t see it or will they be able to see it still

  5. L. Hunt says:

    I think 8 years almost about defeat the purpose. I am not the person who gets into trouble with the law and never had any problems and a little over 4 years ago I made an error in judgement and had gotten a DUI. It was a very expensive mistake which I paid for. I paid for the class that the judge mandated. I paid for my court costs and I paid for high risk insurance for 3 years and never have been in any trouble since. To this day I am still paying. I have chosen to go into the health care profession and am a CNA and am currently pursuing my RN. I came across trouble with pursuing a career at a hospital because their policy says that you cannot be hired if you EVER have had an alcohol related driving offense if the position requires you to drive due to liability reasons. For example, if I applied to be a Home Health Aide for that hospital, I would not be able to be considered because it would be required to drive to patients homes. I actually applied for Inpatient which would not require me to drive but the manager may decide not to hire me because she wanted to have someone she could utilize in both ways which as an employer I could understand. I think it’s awesome the “idea” behind the Second Chance Act but I think that waiting 8 years is a little extreme.

    • Leta says:

      I feel ur pain, eight is too long, but hang in there n stay focus n GOD will work it out. N congrads on ur success.

      • Rob says:

        I’ve read many of the posts, and can tell you that as a guy caught up in the horrible aspects of divorce with a child caught in the middle, I’m paying a terrible price. I’m still feeling the affects of a misdameanor that I received seven years ago. Eight years ago, my ex decided it would be in her best interest to file for a no contact order while also filing for divorce. Kinda surprised me, as I tried later to get it rescinded because I knew she would use it as a tool to make visitation procedures difficult with our child. After nearly a year of unsuccessful attempts to have the order thrown out, she duped me into picking him up at her house. I would later be arrested, charged and convicted of this violation. Three years later, I was layed off, and have tried unsuccessfully to gain employment after many attempts. Can honestly say, that I know of two jobs I was denied employment, and only assume that is the reason for so many others. Never thought in my wildest dreams I could not gain employment with my work history and skills. Still have to wait another year before I can attempt to expunge this. What a nightmare!

    • Gail Strejc says:

      I think 8 is too long as well, if you paid the price and served the time. I would think 5 is a test of if you are going to stay on the path to getting it all back together again.

  6. Not Guilty says:

    I have several charges in which I was found not guilty and the cases were dismissed (all over 10 years ago)and when employers do my criminal background check, they still question me on these charges. If I was found not guilty and the charges were dismissed, why do they show on my criminal history reports? This is not fair as I am still being treated as if I was found guilty and I had to pay and suffer while proving my innocense. How does this law assist me?

  7. Jo B says:

    I was arrested by never charged, got a deferral and per my lawyer my record was to be expunged after I completed my classes. It never happend. When I inquired was told Oh the courts never do that, too busy. Why did I pay extra when it won’t ever happen.
    Will courts have the time to “block” charges from employers ?

    • Brenda says:

      he was calling the poilce and told me he didn’t want to talk to me and just go home which was a few doors down. I went home, put my bike away and sat on my couch to watch T.V. and was drinking another beer. Within about 15 min. I noticed poilce cars on the street. I walked out of my house and was approached by 2 officers that began to question me about the incident. They detected alcohol on my breath and I told them I had been drinking beer. I brought them into my home and showed them my bike had no damage and showed them I had no injuries. I didn’t recall causing damage to the vehicle but they said they had witness’. They gave me a sobriety test and arrested me for DUI. The officers didn’t witness me riding my bike so how could I be taken from my home and arrested? Thank you for any information.

  8. Jay says:

    It’s been 12 years since I was convicted of marijuana possession. Class D Felony. Other than a seat belt & speeding ticket..I’m clean as a whistle. Is there an attorney you can recommend? Are there pro bonos?

  9. jobless says:

    -Eight years- completely ridiculous. I need a job like now, and it has been almost three years already since my conviction and I don’t know how many jobs I could have had.

  10. jose says:

    Thank you Indiana…. I have one more year to go. I’m a father of 4 kids and a husband. I was 19 crossing state lines was a passenger of a vehicle with Mj, caught a case. Now I have a chance to expunge it. Thank you. Every one makes mistakes. This world will never be perfect. Think about ur kids or family members. If your kid made a mistake does he diserve a second chance?

  11. PADILLA S says:

    Eight years is so off the wall for anyone who wants to start over. The state needs to re-look at their reason for 8 yrs. It is true people make mistakes and 8 yrs of punishment is off the wall for anyone trying to do things over again. How can they support their family and make ends meet. STATE OF INDIANA, MERCY FOR MERCY. Help the people of Indiana give them a break. Maybe you can have a program that if they stay out of trouble for 4 yrs they can have early termination by the state and let them file their petition and grant their request so they can move forward.

  12. kelley hunley says:

    I got into a vehical with a friend of a friend drinking whiskey people all over town were calling police on her crazy driving. Numerous times I told her to slow down and got laughed at then I started seeing kids all over town – school was out. But she didn’t slow down any the madder I got the funnier she thought it was. Just let me out then! She flat out told me no then proceeds telling me she has a thong for me – in detail finally I reached over and hit her in the face as hard as I could about 3 or four times steered the truck to side of the road took out the keys and threw them about two yards away and pulled her out of the truck and kicked her a couple times when she spit on me neighbors called the police who had already set up road blocks to stop get-out she had no license either she later filed battery charges I did 28 days in jail she walked home without a care in the world. I 8 years later I’ve not had any arrests still I can’t be hired because a violent crime is on my record I filed for an expungement and today got my letter from the court denying me-

  13. Jesse says:

    How do I get forms to file for expungement process? My felony conviction was in 1988. I am unemployed and going back to school to get a career and don’t want my felony to hold me back.

  14. k Delk says:

    I was addicted to pain pills and was arrested for for having them without a prescription. I have paid a heavy price but have been drug free since, This has been 10 years ago and at the time I was making 100K a year. I lost my job and have not been able to get a good job since. this problem with prescription drug abuse is huge and pretty soon we won’t have anyone that can pass a back ground check. In a job market like we have today any small mistake will eliminate you from the job pool.This needs to be changes the more that can’t find jobs the more you will have on food stamps. One of the problems is that to do this on your own is not easy, and who has the money to spend on a attorney

  15. Rev. S Bledsoe says:

    Would any one having problems,in Allen County, with this law please notify your local NAACP. The local directory assistance has the number or you may go to there web site.

  16. michael says:

    Seems like a lot of joy over nothing to me. A class D felony is the lowest in Indiana. Most drug offenses are higher. This is unfair to most drug felons who make up most of the non-violent offenders.I know of people who are deceased and their felonies are still listed on the DOC inmate search. Giving a second chance to low rated felons and those not convicted at all does not help many. Job offers are non existent for most felons. That leaves them with few choices. Most will be incarcerated due to the hopelessness they face. Find a way to separate the good from the bad and do some real good. I have met so many talented people unable to work or live a normal life due to past mistakes. Charges should end with the sentence,not be for life!

    • Patricia says:

      I agree with what Michael said, I have two -C- felonys and can’t buy a job or find affordable and deceient housing so I live at home with my 76 year old Mother and have for the last 7 years I am soon to be 55 Years old and would like to see that the law be inclusive of any C felony and below that were without violence . I have been paying for my crime and it look’s like I will be be for an indefinant period of time . Where is the justice in that.I have not re-offended at all within the last 7 years and would love to be given a fair chance to truthfully have a second chance!

  17. Me says:

    I should have gone to school for criminal justice, to me, it is the only valuable education for a true entrepreneur in our country. Who wants to make money but in the end still feel so powerless because you don’t understand.

  18. Kathleen says:

    It is about time they did this cause we all have made mistakes, some do not or have not been caught. You should not have to pay for a non violent crime the rest of your life. Then people think what the heck you are treated like dirt and can not get a job so what happens they go back to what they did in the first place. It just has not been right for a long long time. Thank God….!

  19. kay says:

    INdiana is doing the right thing passing the second chance law.There have been far too many people denied access to quality jobs,housing and social scrutiny.These low level offenders were left to waddle in poverty with society expectations to do better and be a productive citizen with a conviction chained around them for decades. I now hope these people to go on and be the best they can be. Society will benefit greatly and for those that would say no to this law everyone deserves a second chance “who are you to judge”.

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