By: Jamie Jorczak
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Expungement: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
An expungement seals records and can be the path to a fresh start.
Some estimates state that as many as one out of five Americans has a criminal conviction. While we all want to feel safe as we go about our lives, are that many of our neighbors dangerous criminals? The answer is clearly no. A large portion of these folks got behind the wheel when they shouldn’t have, got into an argument that resulted in a fight, got caught with a small amount of pot, or some other low level, non-violent offense. Mistakes? Yes. Mistakes that should follow you forever? We don’t think so. These crimes, just like the more serious ones, include paying a debt to society, such as fines, jail time, probation, and more. But, at what point has that debt been paid?
A criminal record, even for a non-violent offense committed years ago, can be a significant hurdle to getting a job. The Legislature realized this several years ago and enacted Indiana’s Expungement laws. These laws allow citizens with criminal convictions to petition the courts to “expunge” their criminal convictions. What does this mean for you? Probably most importantly is that, if your convictions are expunged, you can honestly answer “No” when asked if you have convictions on a job application. We have heard from too many clients that some low level felony OWI or other case from long ago in their past has prevented them from getting a job. This resolves that problem. In addition, it can make a person eligible again for gun permits, the convictions are hidden from public searches, along with other benefits.
Don’t wait too long to take action.
The laws vary depending on the type of offense, but generally speaking misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years, and most felonies after 8 years, if there have been no other convictions in that time period. BUT, don’t wait! Prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement don’t like expungement laws, and if they had the opportunity to have the law changed, they likely would. We have faced resistance from prosecutors in absurd circumstances as well as difficulty in making sure a successful expungement order is properly processed.
Nonetheless, we have successfully helped clients expunge their convictions in counties all over the state. The legal fees are affordable and the results will be worth it, particularly if this law doesn’t last forever. Contact us now for a free consultation to see if an expungement is an option for you.