In 2012, the Indiana General Assembly for the first time passed the “Second Chance Act” to give those convicted of crimes some relief from their criminal past. By allowing those convicted of certain misdemeanors and D felonies, the Indiana General Assembly attempted to give a “second chance” to past criminal offenders by allowing them to make themselves non-felons and hide their misdemeanor convictions from public view.
This past Spring, the Indiana General Assembly dramatically expanded the options available to those who qualify, and also dramatically expanded those who qualify for reduction of d felonies, expungement, and sealing of conviction and arrest records. This new law goes into effect July 1, 2013.
Prior to the passage of Indiana House Bill 1482-2013, there were strict time requirements that excluded many from applying for relief under the Indiana Second Chance Act. For felony reduction, the prior requirement was three (3) years, and for a petition to restricted access to criminal records the requirement was eight (8) years. The time requirements started upon the completion of all court mandated obligations, which was often multiple years after the date of conviction. Under the new law, all time for non violent d felonies and misdemeanors is calculated from the conviction date, and the Indiana General Assembly also reduced the time requirements generally.
As mentioned, the old requirement for “criminal record sealing” of d felonies and misdemeanors was eight (8) years from the date of completion of all court mandated requirements, including all formal or informal probation. Under the new law effective July 1, 2013, all time requirements begin to run at the conviction date (the date a plea was tendered). As well, while the time requirement for d felonies remains eight (8) years, the time requirement for reduced class d felonies and other misdemeanors was modified to five (5) years from of eight (8).
In addition to opening the door to more individuals, the Indiana General Assembly strengthened the law by introducing enforcement measures previously unavailable to persons aggrieved of violations of the Indiana Second Chance Act. Under the old Act, it was permissible for persons to answer “No” to questions whether the person had ever been convicted of a criminal offense if it had been reduced or sealed. This mechanism was greatly enhanced, however, in the new Act by prohibiting discrimination based upon offenses once they are expunged. In addition, the Indiana General Assembly gave this mandate “teeth” by making it a Class C Infraction to discriminate based upon such information, and made it available to “any person” to file for contempt under the Chapter for violating the Act.
Also, now available is the option to expunge records contained in the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Indiana Department of Corrections, as well as any service agency that participated in the administrative court-mandated programs.
Finally, it is more important than ever that persons who may qualify hire an experienced post-conviction relief attorney to assist them. According to the new law, a person may only receive relief under the new law ONCE in a person’s entire lifetime. In other words, if you are successful in obtaining a felony reduction or expungement of a misdemeanor record, it is the ONLY time a court will give you a second chance at putting your criminal convictions behind you. Also, an unsuccessful attempt to reduce a Class D Felony or expunge a Class D Felony or expunge a misdemeanor in Indiana will require the person to wait at least three (3) years before petitioning again.
If you have questions about the recent 2013 amendment to the Indiana Second Chance Act that goes into effect July 1, 2013, or feel that you may qualify to have your record sealed or expunged, call our office at (219) 841-5683 or Contact Us on the Quick Form located at the bottom of our Criminal Post Conviction Relief Page for a FREE CONSULTATION.