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By lansingerjo57208572, Oct 12 2015 07:40PM

Expungment means to many people that they're "getting something off their record." The ins and outs of expungment are a lot more involved than just wiping the record clean. Expungement laws are relatively new in Indiana. Until recent years, a person could have an arrest that did not lead to a conviction expunged, but not a criminal conviction.

The Indiana legislature has been fine tuning the law for the past few years now, and it keeps getting more complicated. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an attorney help with your expungement. I don’t mean to be self serving – you can use any lawyer you like, just don’t try to do it yourself.

In Indiana, there are two basic ways to expunge a criminal record. For misdemeanors, you have to wait five years. For most low level felonies, the wait is eight years. This is not automatic. You must file a petition with the Court (with the help of an attorney, hopefully). That petition must contain certain information and must be sent certain places. For misdemeanors and low level felonies, if you do it right and meet the criteria, the Court MUST grant your petition.

Once the order is granted, any public record of the conviction is no longer available for public access. You are to be treated as though you haven’t been convicted, and you can answer as such on applications. Employers are not allowed to discriminate you based on a conviction that has been expunged.

There are some caveats though. If you get in trouble again, past convictions could be used to enhance your sentence or be applied against your driving record for Habitual Traffic Violator status. Also, and this is a big one, expungement of domestic violence DOES NOT restore your gun rights, and expungement of a felony DOES NOT restore your gun rights. Some lawyers advertise that it does. They are mistaken. While federal case law does state that the Feds have to give credence to state law expungement, the Feds don’t view Indiana as having “true” expungement. This is because the conviction could still be used against you in the future as described above.

For major felonies, there are longer waiting periods, and the Courts do have some discretion. They also don’t remove the record of conviction, they just mark it as “Expunged.” They will still be available to the public.

So while Indiana’s expungement law isn’t a cure all for those afflicted with a criminal record, it’s better than nothing and a great way to get moving in the right direction after learning from a mistake or two.

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