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Expungement Forms in Indiana are Full of Pitfalls

Expungement forms for a new Indiana law have circulated, which suggest a format to file a petition for expunging criminal records. Beware! Forms can be dangerous and failure to comply with Indiana Code may result in your petition being denied.

Forms can be a useful way to assemble information. However, they can also lead the unwary to a false security that correctly completing a form means that they have complied with the law. A petition for expungement must comply with Indiana Code, not any particular form.

Unlike many other pleadings, a petition for expungement must include actual evidence that the petitioner has successfully completed all terms of the sentence previously imposed, including: (A) payment of restitution, fines, and court costs; and (B) completion of any terms of probation, parole, or community corrections. The expungement statute also sets forth specific filing requirements for when a person has convictions in different courts within the same county or multiple convictions in different counties. A court may deny a petition that does not meet the technical requirements without a hearing.

The sealing records and expungement statute is ten sections long and spans ten pages when printed. It contains numerous technical requirements, including the nature of evidence that must be presented, compliance with the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, and deadlines for filing petitions in more than one county. A court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the requirements for expungement have been met in order to grant a petition. The new law also provides that if a petition for expungement is denied in whole or part, a subsequent petition may not be filed earlier than three years following the denial of the original petition.

The benefits of sealing or expunging your criminal records are numerous and can be life-changing. A clear criminal history can lead to a better job, increased pay, and the restoration of civil rights. You only get one chance to file a petition for expungement and errors come with severe consequences. If you are seeking a second chance, get legal advice from an experienced Indiana attorney. Third chances are hard to come by.