By Erik Doll
Everyone makes mistakes. In most cases, we learn from our mistakes and move on with our lives. However, some mistakes carry consequences that are more serious. Some mistakes may result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Having a conviction on your record, even a misdemeanor conviction, will have a lifelong effect on your employment prospects. A felony conviction will not only restrict your ability to find gainful employment, it will also limit your ability to hold certain licenses and permits, obtain federal housing aid, and obtain education funding. A criminal conviction, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony level, is a heavy burden to bear.
Fortunately, if you have been convicted in the State of Indiana of a misdemeanor or felony, a new law may be able to lift the burden of that conviction from your shoulders. On July 1, 2013, House Enrolled Act 1482 took effect that will allow you to expunge convictions from your record, in some cases as early as five years after the date of the conviction. The law also allows you the opportunity to expunge more than one conviction.
The new law is the replacement to a law that was enacted in 2011, which allowed individuals with certain misdemeanors and D felonies to restrict public access to their records. One of the notable problems with the old restricted access law was that it did not apply to records held by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This gap in the old restricted access law was problematic for people convicted of traffic offenses, such as operating under the influence. Under the old restricted access law, if you petitioned the court to restrict access, and the court granted your petition, a potential employer may still have had the ability to see your conviction through records from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The new law has solved this problem, and allowed comprehensive expungement of convictions from the court files, the files of the Department of Corrections, the files of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and any person or entity that provided treatment or services as a result of the conviction.
The new expungement law is much more comprehensive than the old restricted access law, and provides a much greater level of relief for individuals who have old convictions. While the restricted access law applied only to misdemeanors and certain D felonies, the new expungement law allows expungement of felonies of any classification. The law does prohibit the expungement of certain types of offenses. For example, most sex or violent offenses, convictions for felonies that resulted in serious bodily injuries, and convictions for homicides cannot be expunged under the new law. However, there are a vast number of misdemeanor and felony level convictions that can be expunged under the new law. For example, if you have been convicted of theft, forgery, burglary, operating a vehicle under the influence, a gambling offense, or a drug offense, you may be able to have the conviction expunged. The type of convictions that qualify for expungement under the new law is extremely broad. If you are unsure whether your conviction qualifies for expungement, you should contact our office for a consultation.
While the new expungement law is liberal is that it provides relief for a vast array of convictions in a relatively short amount of time following the conviction, the new law is also extremely complicated. The new law gets very technical when it comes to what is required for a petition for expungement. If all of the required information is not included in the petition, the court may deny it. What this means is that if you leave out a single required word or phrase, the court may reject your petition. Under the new law, if the court rejects your petition, you will not be allowed to re-file your petition for three years. In addition, if you have multiple convictions that you would like expunged, there are specific requirements you must adhere to and a precise method you must follow to petition the court for multiple expungement. Furthermore, the new law only allows you to use the expungement process one time during the course of your life. If you are using it for the purposes of expunging multiple convictions, it is critical that the process is done accurately for each and every conviction. If a conviction is missed, or if the petition is done incorrectly for a particular conviction, you may never get another chance for expungement. Don’t make the mistake of attempting an expungement on your own. The attorneys at Dillon Legal Group, P.C. know the law. If you would like to expunge an old conviction, contact the attorneys at Dillon Legal Group, P.C. If done properly, the expungement law even provides for penalties for employers and distributors of information who improperly distribute information about or question expunged convictions.
No one knows how long the new expungement law will be in effect. Prosecutors are already advocating to repeal the new law and arguing that offenders shouldn’t get to have such a blank slate. See Apsley uncertain of new state law, Gable, Paul, shelbynews.com/articles/2013/08/17/news/doc520ee77f11cbf442984711.txt. The 2011 law
that allowed access to criminal convictions to be restricted has already been repealed. If you have a conviction that you wish to expunge, the time to act is now. If you wait, you may miss the opportunity. Contact the attorneys at Dillon Legal Group, P.C., and start your new life today.