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By RICHARD YOUNG
District 47 State Senator
A new law affecting thousands of Hoosiers recently went into effect that will allow the criminal records of those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes to be expunged.
This law can make an important difference in the lives of those who have kept their records clean for many years.
For example, previous felony arrest records can cause a job application to be ignored or discarded during a background check, even if the arrest never led to a conviction.
In today’s job market, this can be detrimental to a Hoosier who has kept their record clean and is trying to find work. It is my hope this law will help lessen the occurrence of this issue. Expungement is the destruction or sealing of criminal records so that they are only available in limited circumstances.
Under Indiana’s new expungement law, expunged records are sealed and may only be released by court order or to a law enforcement officer acting in the course of their official duty.
The bill mirrors efforts set forth by the federal Second Chance Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008.
The Second Chance Act was the first legislation enacted to provide mentoring, housing, employment and other services to citizens returning to their communities after serving time for a conviction.
On July 1, Indiana’s version of the law — House Enrolled Act 1482 — went into effect.
Records may be expunged only if there are no charges pending against a person, one does not have a suspended driver’s license and has not been convicted of a crime for a certain number of years, between 5 to 10 years depending on the severity of the crime.
For a misdemeanor or Class D felony reduced to a misdemeanor, one may petition the court for an expungement five years after conviction. For most nonviolent felonies the waiting period is 8 years. For more serious felonies, the waiting period is 10 years and the consent of the prosecuting attorney is required.
Expungement is not available to sex offenders, violent offenders or those convicted of official misconduct.
Due to the complexity of the law and the fact that one may only petition to expunge once in lifetime, it is highly recommended that the help of an attorney is sought out. Forms for petitions to expunge are provided by the Indiana Division of State Court Administration and can be found at www. in.gov/ judiciary/2706.htm.
It is my hope that this legislation will help Hoosiers take a step in the right direction to becoming successful contributors to our communities and state, and to help drive our local economies.
As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the issues that matter most to you. Please contact me at (800) 382-9467 or email@example.com.
Young represents Perry County in the Indiana Senate.