Indiana Criminal Record Expungements - The Basics

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In Indiana, it is sometimes possible to have one's criminal record expunged. Expungement (also called "setting aside" or "expunction" in legalese) is the process of getting this record cleared, i.e. out of the police and justice system's database so that the effect is as though the record never happened.

Expungement is most often sought for criminal conviction records and criminal arrest records, but for adults in Indiana, only arrest records can be expunged.Indiana juvenile arrest and conviction records can sometimes be expunged, but only where the juvenile was specifically found to be delinquent (or in need of services). The only possible exception to this rule about expunging conviction records in Indiana is a pardon by the Governor which is very rare.

It is so rare in fact that a standard for how to expunge a pardoned crime has not yet been established or codified into law by the Indiana state legislature: in 2007, a trial court's denial of an expungement petition was upheld by the Court of Appeals for exactly this reason.

There are two hard requirements for those seeking to have their adult criminal history records expunged. Applications will be accepted from:

  1. Those who never had criminal charges filed against them, or
  2. Those whose criminal charges were ultimately dropped because of:
    • Mistaken identity,
    • No offense was actually committed, or
    • The absence of probable cause.

Those who meet one of those two requirements (and can prove it in court) will have an opportunity to get their arrest record expunged. Applicants (called "petitioners" here) must file a proper petition in the court where criminal charges were filed against them. If no charges were filed (i.e. – condition #1), the petition must be filed in the criminal court with jurisdiction over the county where you were arrested.

Once the petition is filed, proper notice is given to the law enforcement agency that arrested them, and at least 30 days have elapsed since providing that notice, the court will make its decision on the expungement request. The court will wait at least 30 days in order to give any law enforcement agency the opportunity to respond and object to the expungement request, usually with a sworn statement stating why.

If it is satisfactorily proven to the court that the two requirements listed above are met, then the expungement request in Indiana will be generally be granted – even despite a law enforcement objection. The major reasons for denial are the following:

  1. Having a past arrest record for more than just minor traffic offenses, and/or
  2. Having other criminal charges still pending against the petitioner.

Unlike many other states, a record of other arrests on your record does not sound the death knell for the expungement application, nor does an opposition from a law enforcement agency. The trial court still has discretion to grant or deny the petition.

If your expungement request is granted, then all records related to the expunged request must be either destroyed or given to you by the law enforcement agency that is holding on to them. The court will also ensure that any other law enforcement agencies that may be holding your records are properly directed to destroy or return the information to you.

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