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Understanding Indiana’s “Second Chance” Law

by Jon A. Keyes September, 2012

In 2011, the Indiana Legislature passed a “Second Chance” law allowing people convicted of certain misdemeanors and Class D Felonies to have those convictions sealed or expunged. In 2012, the Indiana Legislature passed another “Second Chance” law allowing people convicted of certain old Class D Felonies to have those convictions reduced to a misdemeanor. The purpose of this article is to explain this new “Second Chance” law.

Until July of 2012, a person convicted of a Class D Felony in Indiana could not have that felony reduced to a misdemeanor unless the trial court provided that person with such a right upon sentencing. There was no other mechanism to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor-even if the felony was 10 or 20 years old. These decades-old felony convictions prevented people from obtaining employment, possessing a firearm, and otherwise living a full and normal life after completing their sentence.

This all changed in July of 2012. Now, certain Class D Felonies can be reduced to a misdemeanor if the following facts exist: (1) the person is not a sex or violent offender, (2) the conviction is for a crime that did not cause bodily injury, (3) at least three years have passed since the person completed his sentence, (4) the person has no been convicted of another felony since this conviction, and (5) the person has no pending criminal charges. The trial court has discretion in reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, so this law is best suited for people who have stayed out of trouble and otherwise turned their life around since obtaining the felony conviction.

To learn whether your Class D Felony conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor, contact us to speak to one of our attorneys who practices criminal law.