If you have criminal convictions on your record, you may wish you could erase them from your record. This dream might become a reality thanks to Indiana’s expungement law. The ability to clear your criminal history can significantly change your life, offering better job opportunities, housing options and more.
Nevertheless, you may find that the expungement process is complicated and that it leaves you with many unanswered questions. Before filing for expungement, it is important to understand what it is and how it can help better your life.
What is expungement?
Expungement is a legal process where you request the court to seal your criminal records. If the court grants your request, your criminal records become invisible to the public. That means future employers, landlords or anyone conducting a background check will not see your criminal history.
Who qualifies for expungement?
In Indiana, not everyone is eligible for expungement. The law allows you to seek expungement if the police arrested you, but you did not get convicted, or if you have a misdemeanor or felony conviction. However, there are strict time frames to adhere to, and the type of offense plays a significant role in determining eligibility. Serious violent crimes, for example, may not qualify for expungement.
How Long does the expungement process take?
The duration of the expungement process in Indiana can vary. Once you file your petition, the court has 30 days to notify the prosecutor, who then has another 30 days to respond. After this, the court will set a date for your hearing. The Indiana State Police report that the entire process could take four to six months, so patience is important.
Is expungement permanent?
Once the court grants your expungement request, your criminal record becomes sealed from public view permanently. However, law enforcement agencies and the courts can still access your records. This access ensures that if you commit another crime, your past offenses can still factor into any new sentences.
Understanding the expungement process in Indiana is the first step toward potentially clearing your criminal record. Remember, the process can be complex, and eligibility is not guaranteed. Yet, if you are successful, expungement can open doors for you that were previously closed, giving you a fresh start and a brighter future.