Just a few years ago, there were exceedingly narrow ways an Indiana felon could have his or her record cleared up to “remove” the felony. For example, the person who committed a felony years ago and had not been in legal trouble since that time was likely not a felony risk to society and should not have the stigma. Also, felonies—even old felonies—barred many employment opportunities. Contrariwise, some old felonies were awful crimes, such as child molesting or rape and there was no societal, judicial, or legislative will to provide relief.
However, expungement statutes were ultimately introduced into the General Assembly. The first two versions were not particularly successful because the federal government did not recognize them for restoring all four core civil liberties given the language of the text. They did not in practical effect expunge the implications of the felonies in full but sealed them from the public record—perhaps allowing a prospective job applicant to answer “no” to the question “Have you been convicted of a felony” on a job application. Finally, the third version of the expungement statute passed in 2016 was recognized by ATF. This is the central focus of this blog post—why to consider obtaining an expungement under Indiana’s current expungement statute.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates have been actively involved in trying to address early expungements—with some success—given the records necessary to seek expungement under the current statute have been expunged and do not exist. If you had an expungement under Indiana’s early expungement statutory scheme, it may be possible to correct the fact it merely sealed your criminal record.
This noted, and turning back to the central point of this blog post there are three (3) major reasons a felony who meets the complex statutory requirements1 should seek expungement.
First, under Indiana’s current expungement statutes, a prior operation of law and expungement restores all core civil liberties—the right to hold public office, sit on a jury, vote, and keep and bear arms. Old expungements are not recognized by ATF to restore the right to keep and bear arms, and as such, cannot obtain a license to carry a handgun or pass a NICS check.
Second, expungement allows a job application to answer he or she has not been convicted of a felony on a job application—however, a few employers appear to be asking questions if the applicant has had a felony expunged which violates the public policy behind expungement. This will likely play itself out in the ensuing years, but given the felonies that are excluded from expungement, such as violent felonies, the balance will probably be struck toward expungement. Most citizens agree a person changes over years, and a onetime conviction for a felony should not preclude the individual from being a productive citizen, earning a living to support a family, and assist with the tax collection. In some cases, a very old felony is not classified as a felony any longer, but a misdemeanor, further highlighting the need for expungement.
Third, anecdotally, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates have observed a significant number of individuals who seek expungement as a way to close the mental anguish having a felony still carries after all of the passing years. From not being able to go to the range with their adult children, to try to have to re-explain the felony in new business and other environments where the questions are asked, it carries a tremendous mental burden that may be lifted by expungement.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates are actively involved in seeking expungements throughout the State. Given there is only one chance to obtain an expungement for crimes, a proposed litigant is well advised to seek counsel. These are exceedingly complex and require reconstructing records (and sometimes correcting mistakes in records made years ago). If you have an old felony, complied with probation, and have been crime-free since that time, you should consider expungement. This blog post is written by advocates at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handled expungements throughout the State. This blog is not intended to be legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- These factual requirements address the passage of time since the completion of probation or similar terms and the type of felony. Not all felonies can be expunged.