Wipe the slate clean: How Indiana’s Second Chance Law helps to expunge arrests, convictions

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Commentary by Jim Crum

Do you have a past arrest or conviction for a crime that is making it difficult for you to land the job you want? In 2013, the Indiana legislature made it possible for you to wipe clean most of your criminal arrests and convictions. Known as the Second Chance Law, Indiana’s expungement law allows you to expunge misdemeanor convictions as long as 5 years have elapsed since your most recent conviction, you have no charges or investigations pending, and you have paid all costs associated with the conviction. Importantly, in the case of drunk driving cases, the conviction will also be expunged from your BMV record.

Misdemeanors aren’t the only convictions you can wipe off of your record. Most Level 6 or D-felonies (think theft, narcotic possession, multiple offense OWIs) can be expunged as long as 8 years have elapsed since conviction date, and all other requirements mentioned above are met. While there are some exceptions, as long as you meet the requirements, the judge must expunge your misdemeanor and Level 6/D-Felony convictions. Furthermore, once the convictions are expunged, the law states that you must be treated as if you have never been convicted of the offense. Additionally, when asked on a job application if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can legally say “no”. You can only seek expungement once in your lifetime. If you have multiple convictions, we must expunge all within one year to count as “once.” Note that higher-level felonies can potentially also be expunged!

For those who have been arrested, but never convicted, that arrest is likely showing up on a background check. The expungement law applies here as well, and you can have the judge order that the arrest record be sealed from public access after one year from date of arrest.

Lastly, as you can imagine, there are exceptions to all of the rules discussed in this article that may affect expungement.

Jim Crum is an attorney at law with Coots, Henke & Wheeler, P.C., 255 E. Carmel Dr. He can be reached at (317) 844-4693 or jcrum@chwlaw.com.


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