Second Chances: Indiana’s Evolving Expungement Law

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Indiana Court Times on 07/14/2015 by Libby Milliken

While still a subject of some controversy, expungement, the process by which an Indiana citizen can seal past criminal records, has undergone significant revision since its inception. In 2012, Indiana lawmakers enacted legislation popularly known as the “Second Chance Law.” Under the 2012 procedure, only those convicted of misdemeanors and non-violent class D felonies were eligible, and the remedy resulted in an order to non-law enforcement agencies prohibiting disclosure of the criminal records.

In 2013, the General Assembly repealed the original provisions and replaced them with a new set of “expungement” statutes codified under I.C. 35-38-9. While, like the original “Second Chance” legislation, the 2013 procedure did not result in the actual destruction of the criminal records, it did expand the pool of eligible convicted offenders. Additionally, while not all expunged records were removed from public access, all successful petitioners earned the right to be treated as though they had never been convicted of the expunged offense. In 2014, and again this year, the Indiana General Assembly refined the expungement statutes to clarify legislative intent and remove barriers that inadvertently prevented some reformed offenders from benefitting from the remedy.