Indiana’s New Second Chance Law
Writer / Mario Massillamany
We all make mistakes in our youth. Sometimes even as adults. Luckily for us, the Indiana General Assembly just revised the expungement laws (Indiana Code 35-5-5.5 and 35-38-8, 9) to give Hoosiers a second chance. The Legislature understood that old arrests and convictions can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, serving in the military, or participating in service groups. Known as the “Second Chance Law,” the new law allows for sealing arrest records and expunging certain convictions.
Sealing Prior Arrests:
Sometimes a person will get arrested but the charges will be dismissed due to mistaken identity, not committing the crime, or lack of evidence. But those arrests still appear in that person’s record. Under the new law, if you were arrested but never convicted of the crime charged, you can have the arrest sealed one year later. This can be vital for future employment, as the arrest will not appear in a background check, nor would you need to disclose the arrest on a job application.
Expunging Your Record:
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or Class D Felony that was reduced to a misdemeanor (AMS), you can petition the court for an expungement five years after the conviction. For D Felony convictions that did not result in a bodily injury, the waiting period is eight years from the date of conviction. For more serious felonies, the waiting period will be either eight or ten years and can require written consent from the prosecuting attorney. Note: expungement is not available to sex offenders, violent offenders, or those convicted of official misconduct.
How Records Are Expunged:
If you have multiple convictions that qualify, you must expunge them at the same time. If your convictions occurred in the same county, you can file them under one petition. If they are from multiple counties in Indiana, you must file separately in each county. There are no filing fees for sealing records but there is a $141 state civil filing fee for expunging convictions. You must not have an existing or pending driver’s license suspension or pending charges to get an expungement.
Do You Need an Attorney?:
Due to the intricacy of the law and only getting one chance at expungement in the State of Indiana, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that restores all of your civil rights, including the right to vote and the right to own firearms. Take advantage of the new law to clear those youthful (or adult) indiscretions from your record.