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Expungement Law FAQ

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers!

What’s the difference between an expungement and a seal?

There isn’t one. There used to be a difference, depending on whether you wanted to clean up the record of your arrest or the record of your criminal conviction. The law was amended in 2019, however, and now it’s all called expungement.

How many times can I expunge my criminal convictions?

Once. This may require multiple petitions if your criminal history stretches across more than one county. If this is the case, you must file all of the petitions within a 365-day period.

When am I eligible for expungement?

It depends. Generally speaking, if you were never convicted (or if your conviction was vacated on appeal), you’re eligible for expungement one year from the date of your arrest. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you become eligible five years after the date of conviction. For felonies that can be expunged, the waiting period is at least eight years. Give us a call if you want to talk specifics!

How long does an expungement take?

At least a couple of months. Once you fill out an intake form, we’ll send you a draft of your expungement paperwork to review. After you approve it, we file that paperwork with the court. The state has 30 days to respond, and sometimes it asks for additional time. The court usually rules shortly after the State files its response.

Will I have to go to court for this?

Maybe. Expungement of most misdemeanor and low-level felony convictions doesn’t require a hearing. For high-level felonies, however, a hearing is pretty much guaranteed. In addition, some smaller counties hold hearings on all expungement petitions.

What about my gun rights?

We’re prepared for that. By law, Indiana can only issue a license to carry a handgun to a proper person. Our petitions specifically state that upon completion of the expungement process, you‘ll be a proper person to be licensed to carry a handgun. If you have a conviction for a crime of domestic violence, that makes things a bit more complicated and will likely require the filing of an additional petition

What happens when a misdemeanor or Class D/Level 6 felony case is expunged?

Your criminal record is hidden from public view. Once an expungement is granted, notice is sent to the Indiana Department of Correction, the BMV, the arresting police department, and any other State agency that may have a record of the case. The files of private parties who conduct background checks may not immediately reflect your expungement, because this will depend on when the private parties update their respective systems.

What happens when a higher-level felony conviction is expunged?

Your criminal record is “marked as expunged.” For higher-level felonies, the criminal record remains available to the public, but it is clearly and visibly identified as having been expunged. The agencies receiving a copy of the order will add an entry to any record associated with the case stating that it has been expunged. 

Can employers ask about criminal cases that have been expunged?

No. On applications for employment, licensure, or anything else, you can only be questioned in a way that excludes expunged cases. Example: Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has not been expunged by a court?

Can my expunged case still be used against me?

Only in a criminal prosecution. A person whose record is expunged shall be treated as if the person had never been convicted of the offense. Indiana has made it unlawful for anyone to suspend, expel, refuse to employ, refuse to admit, refuse to grant or renew a license to, or otherwise discriminate against any person because of a conviction or arrest record that has been expunged.

What if I’m arrested again?

The prosecutor will not ignore your expunged convictions. The State is allowed to use expunged convictions against you for charging and sentencing purposes. For example, let’s say you got a DUI/OVWI five years ago and just had that conviction expunged. If you pick up a new DUI/ OVWI next week, this can be charged as a felony based on the prior conviction.

How do I know if I qualify?

Click here to begin sorting out the important details. This short expungement questionnaire will get you started. Even if you aren’t yet eligible, we can get started on your paperwork and prepare to file as soon as your waiting period is up.

I’ve been denied employment or housing because of my expunged criminal history—what can I do?

Call the Marc Lopez Law Firm 317-632-3642!