A criminal charge has consequences that echo beyond the penalties you face if you’re convicted. In fact, even if you’re not convicted, you can still face long-term repercussions related to your arrest and charge. These consequences include a damaged personal and professional reputation and a newfound difficulty securing employment and housing.
An expungement is a way to avoid facing those consequences. In short, expungement is the process through which a criminal offense is removed from your record. Not all offenses can be expunged, and not every person with a criminal record qualifies for an expungement. But for those who do qualify for expungement, the process can be a complete life-changer. An expungement offers an opportunity to “turn back the clock” and live as if you haven't been charged with a criminal offense.
An Overview of Expungement in Indiana
Criminal records detail every charge a person has faced throughout their life – even those that didn't result in a conviction, were later overturned by appeals, or were resolved through pretrial diversion programs. Thankfully, in Indiana, it’s possible to expunge certain arrests, charges, and convictions from your record.
What's the Difference Between Expungement and Record Sealing?
Expungement is not the same as sealing your record. When an offense is expunged, it is removed completely. When your criminal record is sealed, on the other hand, the offense is not removed, but made unsearchable by most agencies and individual parties. A sealed record may be accessed through a court order.
This distinction can be confusing, because even with an expungement, certain agencies and individuals can view your record with the conviction, arrest and charge listed.
Who Can Still View my Criminal Record?
Following an expungement, certain agencies and individuals can still access your original criminal record. These parties include attorneys and law enforcement agencies.
Do I Have to Say “Yes” When Asked if I have a Criminal Record?
You may face situations where you’re asked if you’ve ever been arrested, charged or convicted of a criminal offense. Often, this happens when you’re applying for a job. In Indiana, this question is typically phrased as, “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has NOT been expunged by a court?”
If you’ve had your record expunged, you can answer “No” to this question in good faith.
Is an Expungement Permanent?
Yes, an expungement will permanently change your criminal record.
What Else Changes When I Get an Expungement?
In Indiana, your right to possess firearms is restored when your record is expunged – in most cases. If your conviction was for a domestic violence offense, an expungement does not restore your right to buy and possess firearms.
An expungement doesn’t automatically remove your criminal record from online databases. If you find your old record is still appearing in online searches after you’ve had it expunged, you’ll need to contact the administrator of the database listing it and ask that it be removed. This could require you to provide proof of your expungement.
Is There a Limit to How Many Times I Can Expunge My Record?
You cannot expunge your record a second time. This doesn’t mean you can only expunge one offense from your record – it means you can only be granted one expungement in your lifetime. That expungement can be issued for multiple petitions consolidated into one, covering numerous convictions in the same county. If your convictions (or arrests or charges) occurred in different Indiana counties, you must file separate petitions for each county.
Learn More from an Experienced Carmel Expungement Lawyer
Our criminal defense attorney can help you in and out of the courtroom. To learn more about the expungement process and what you can expect from your individual case, contact Blankenship Law, LLC. We’re here to answer any questions you have and help you pursue a brighter future.