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Once you have completed your time or other penalties for a criminal sentence, you’d most likely like to leave all of it behind you. Regrettably, life does not always function that way. The ripple effects of a criminal record often follow you around any place you go, making it hard to proceed with your life. Thankfully, there is hope.
Conviction is not the end! Expungement offers the chance for a fresh start, despite your past mistakes. Of course, expungement is not a guaranteed procedure, as the success of your petition depends on many factors including the nature of the crime you were charged with and any objections that might be filed by the prosecutor’s office. However, an experienced Indianapolis expungement attorney like those at Gemma & Karimi, LLP will know what makes a strong petition and how to make sure you have a powerful case.
Contact Gemma & Karimi, LLP online or call (317) 676-4747 for a free consultation. Our expungement lawyers serve clients in North and Southwest Indianapolis – reach out today.
What is a Criminal Record Expungement?
Sealing and expunging of records in Indiana state is a statutory mechanism that prevents public access to documents about criminal history and the benefit of not disclosing those records upon most requests.
Expungement is defined as the act of legally:
- Striking out documents or information in files, computers, and other depositories relating to criminal charges
Without this occurring, the records of criminal charges remain accessible to law enforcement agencies and, in many circumstances, to the public at large.
Once a criminal record is expunged, generally speaking, records cannot be accessed for general law enforcement or civil use. However, under certain exceptional situations, the deleted documents can be searched, retrieved, and used, but this occurs only in extraordinary circumstances that generally require a court order or statutory authorization of some sort.
Can All Offenses Be Sealed?
The purpose of criminal record expungement is to give individuals who may have made mistakes in the past that involve a run-in with law enforcement another opportunity to clean up their background. However, there are times or offenses where the state or Federal government may deny the opportunity to have a sealed criminal background.
Criminal Convictions That Do Not Qualify for Expungement
While these offenses will vary from state-to-state, generally speaking, if you have been convicted of a major violent felony, it cannot be expunged.
Examples of offenses that cannot be expunged:
- Child molestation
- Sexually based offenses
- Offenses involving children
If you are convicted of those crimes or similar violent or major violent felonies, a criminal conviction or criminal arrest expungement will generally not be an option for you to pursue in your quest to get your criminal background cleared.
If you have questions about clearing your record, call (317) 676-4747 to set up a free initial consultation with an Indianapolis expungement lawyer at Gemma & Karimi, LLP. We are backed by decades of experience combined.
Petition to Expunge an Arrest
Indiana has one of the more liberal expungement laws in the country that allow individuals with criminal convictions or arrests to take them off the public record. Even individuals who have multiple misdemeanor and felony convictions across several counties may be eligible for expungement.
One mark on your criminal record that you may expunge is an arrest. Getting arrested for any crime can stay on a person’s criminal record, even if it did not result in a conviction. However, if the arrest did not result in a conviction, you may request for it to be expunged.
Petition to Expunge a Misdemeanor
You may request expungement of misdemeanors on your criminal record. To be eligible for a misdemeanor expungement, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must not have current or pending charges.
- The conviction must be at least 5 years old.
- Court fees, fines, and required restitution amounts must be paid in full.
- You must not have any subsequent convictions in the past 5 years.
Petition to Expunge a Felony
Felonies may also be expunged, though the requirements are a little more stringent. The main difference is longer waiting periods before petitioning for expungement:
- 8 years for Class D (Level 6) and non-violent felonies;
- 10 years for violent offenders and public officials.
Note that certain violent felony convictions are ineligible for expungement, such as:
- offenses that resulted in bodily injury;
- human trafficking;
- crimes committed while serving as an elected official or candidate for public office.
For guidance in getting your record expunged, contact Gemma & Karimi, LLP via online form or call (317) 676-4747. Request a free consultation with our skilled Indianapolis expungement attorney.
Benefits of Expungement
Having a criminal record can severely limit your opportunities to reintegrate into society. Few companies, for example, are keen to hire people with criminal pasts, despite the fact that you are ready to leave the past behind you. As a result, expunging your record could have huge benefits for helping you move forward in your future. As a convicted individual, it can be difficult to obtain housing, government funding, own a weapon for self-defense, or even secure employment in this already tough economy. This is where Gemma & Karimi, LLP can step in and help you reap the benefits of a successful expungement petition.
Some of the concrete benefits of expungement include:
- Obtaining employment – Many employers conduct criminal background checks on potential employees and are often reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal record. If your record is expunged, you can lawfully say you have never been convicted of a crime before.
- Obtaining housing – In today’s society, landlords frequently conduct background checks on potential tenants. If a landlord learns about a criminal indiscretion of the past, they may either deny rental or even charge a higher rent and/or deposit.
- Qualifying for loans – Taking out a loan may help jump-start life after serving a sentence. However, some loan agencies believe those with criminal records will have a hard time paying back their loans. This belief could lead to loan application denials, high-interest rates, or additional underwriting requirements.
- Restoring your civil rights – After all outstanding felonies are expunged, you can apply to own a firearm as if you never had a felony conviction.
- Getting into college – Even juvenile criminal records can have an adverse effect on future higher education plans. College administrators have been known to deny applicants admission who have been charged or convicted of certain felonies as a child or an adult. There are also some scholarship and grant opportunities that restrict individuals with a criminal record. Having your record expunged may prevent universities from using your criminal past against you.
The Expungement Process
It is best to retain an experienced expungement lawyer to help you with your expungement petition, as even the smallest details in your petition could make or break the outcome. The expungement process in Indiana generally includes the following steps:
- Obtain your criminal record. Go to the Indiana State Police and obtain your criminal record by conducting a limited criminal history search.
- File an expungement petition. The petitioner must provide the prosecuting attorney with a copy of the petition and supporting documents. Then, the prosecutor has 30 days to respond. If the crime involved another person, the prosecutor has a duty to notify the alleged victim, who has the opportunity to provide the court with a statement regarding the expungement petition, but the judge will decide whether the information should carry any weight.
- Obtain proof. As part of filing an expungement petition, the individual filing must provide the following proof: (a) proof of court fines paid in full, (b) proof of fees paid in full, (c) proof of court-ordered restitution paid in full, (d) proof of community service and other outstanding requirements satisfied in full.
- Proceed to prosecutor objection. Once the paperwork is filed, the prosecutor will have a chance to object to the motion to seal the criminal records. This can be done through a written memorandum submitted to the court before or at the scheduled expungement hearing. Your expungement attorney should be prepared to address any objection a prosecutor could have and be prepared to present a strong, cogent, and compelling argument as to why the criminal conviction or arrest record should be expunged.
- Attend the court hearing. During your hearing, the judge will review the evidence of your case and listen to each side before deciding whether to grant your expungement request. The decision will be based on a variety of factors, as the judge weighs the interests of the petition against the government. Should the court give a favorable ruling, the judge will sign an order to seal your record and send it to all agencies that maintain information about criminal records or convictions.
There are different standards of proof for every case, especially more serious felonies. An expungement petition must establish that relief is eligible through a preponderance of the evidence. To successfully obtain the fresh start you deserve, it is best to work with a team of expungement lawyers who have years of experience in expungement and criminal law. Gemma & Karimi, LLP have been helping clients move beyond conviction and arrest for years; let them guide you through your expungement in Indianapolis today.
Contact Gemma & Karimi, LLP online for a free consultation to get started.
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