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Records, Expungement, Forfeiture

Civil Forfeiture Cause Must be Expunged with Criminal Case

The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a civil forfeiture proceeding must be expunged as part of the criminal case expungement. A Madison County man was convicted for dealing in marijuana and possession of cocaine. While the criminal case was pending, the State filed a civil forfeiture proceeding against money the defendant received in the drug deal. The defendant completed his sentence and later became eligible to expunge his felony criminal record. He also sought to have the records of the forfeiture action expunged.

The trial court denied the request to expunge the forfeiture records. However, the decision was reversed on appeal.  The Court of Appeals found that the statute was ambiguous and therefore must be interpreted to give effect to the legislature’s intent. The Court recognized that the policy underlying Indiana’s “expungement statutes is to give individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes a second chance by not experiencing many of the stigmas associated with a criminal conviction.”

Expungement Covers all Records Related to a Criminal Conviction

Under Indiana law, the State can seek the forfeiture of money, cars, or other property that was used to commit a crime. Similar to criminal cases, forfeiture actions leave behind a trail of a person’s criminal history. However, a person can expunge all records relating to a criminal conviction, including those in a civil forfeiture action.