Several years ago, the Legislature passed an expungement statutory scheme to “expungement” or remove old felonies and other arrest and misdemeanor convictions occurring in Indiana from a person’s criminal history. Expunged crimes were basically removed from a person’s criminal history, with the exception of certain uses by law enforcement or in the case of subsequent crimes.
These expungement statutes recognized people change over a long period of time. However, many remained “haunted” and limited in their daily life by an old criminal history. This is despite the fact that they had been model and productive citizens afterward. Most of us are far different than we were five or ten or more years ago. Thus, the policy of the expungement statute was to eliminate this situation.
Specifically, the expungement statutes were intended for two primary purposes. The first was to recognize that public criminal arrest(s) and conviction(s) records, particularly with felonies, had life-long consequences and should be removed. Felonies were prohibited from many jobs and professional licensure. Other arrests and crimes had other implications such as security clearances. The second was to restore the core civil right to keep and bear arms. Other core civil rights1 were mostly removed by other means.
Upon passage, expungement filings were made in waves. However, the federal government interpreted the statute differently than did the Legislature. The result was that the first two version of these expungement statues adopted into law did not restore the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, a person receiving an expungement was still treated as a prohibited possessor under federal law and could not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition. The expungement statute “sealed” their arrests and criminal history for employment and other purposes.
The Legislature then passed a third expungement statute. Ultimately in 2015, the Department of Justice recognized Indiana’s expungement statute as removing the disqualifier of a felony conviction under the Gun Control Act of 1968, restoring the core right to keep and bear arms. The legal issue that arose is there is only one right to seek an expungement once in a lifetime. Therefore the thousands of Hoosiers who obtained expungements before the federal government’s approval of the statute are prohibited possessors and barred from firearms possession.
Although the law and facts are unclear, it may be possible to effectively “re-expunge” those earlier expungements on a different legal theory. Is this your case? This still leaves many NICS denials to be addressed by NTN number. However, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys are active in all aspects of firearms law ranging from representing manufacturers to helping individuals with the restoration of their rights. The takeaway from this blog is there may be legal relief to old expungements that resulted in sealing a criminal record. This blog is written for general educational purposes. It is not intended as legal advice, nor a solicitation for services. It is advertising material.
- These are the right to hold public office, vote, and sit on a jury.