Before July 1st of this year, it has been proven quite difficult to remove any stains on background checks of Indiana’s residents past criminal misdeeds. That was because Indiana did not have an expungement statute in place. However, Indiana legislature passed a bill that as of July 1, 2013 would allow those with a misdemeanor or Class D felony, which was over 5 years old, to seek expungement of their conviction.

Nevertheless, the law, in actuality, is quite confusing as it creates different classes for different convictions (NOTE: Records of arrests are dealt with completely different). If one is convicted of a misdemeanor, i.e. (OWI – Operating a car while intoxicated) or Class D felony reduced to a misdemeanor, the expungement can be petitioned for after 5 years of the conviction (provided you qualify for it, see below). If it is a Class D felony, not reduced, then one can only petition 8 years after the conviction. The distinctions do go on, but do NOT include some sex or violent offenders or homicide cases.

In order to qualify for expungement, one’s petition must demonstrate that: 1) It has been 5 or 8 years, depending on the class of the crime, since you were convicted; 2) No charges are currently pending against you; 3) You do not have an existing driver’s license suspension; 4) You successfully completed your sentence and satisfied all other obligations imposed on you (this includes probation); 5) you have not been convicted of a crime within the last 5 or 8 years.

But, you better be sure that this is your last attempt to run afoul of the law because you may only file one petition for expungement in your lifetime. In addition, there is a fee to file the petition (although it is not clear as to how much it will be), as it is considered a civil action. The thinking behind both of these caveats is that it will further discourage those thinking of testing the legal limits of society to do so again. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is no limit to the number of convictions you may seek to expunge.

The new law will hopefully enable those looking to move on from whatever their past may have been to a bigger and brighter future free of all restraints. Here’s to new beginnings!