An expungement involves sealing criminal records or removing specific crimes from these records. In these cases, the defendant is not forgiven or pardoned, but the courts remove the arrest and conviction from public records.
However, expungements have specific requirements, and the laws vary by state. This is what those convicted of crimes should know about these arrangements.
In an expungement, it is as if the defendant never received a conviction. These individuals no longer have to disclose the conviction to anyone unless they are under oath. In addition, criminal convictions should not show up on background checks.
This process does not remove records from private organizations or individuals. Therefore, news reports and private websites may have them, and an internet search may reveal any convictions. The organizations also do not have to reveal the expungement.
To qualify, defendants should be first-time offenders and have completed the punishments assigned by the judge, but they cannot have outstanding warrants.
Every state has different expungement laws. Federal convictions are rarely removed. In addition, some states only remove juvenile convictions, while others remove adult convictions as well. However, adult expungements have crime limits. For example, state courts likely will not expunge murder, rape, kidnapping, driving and other serious convictions.
Indiana’s Second Chance Law governs expungements. Although the public record will no longer reflect the conviction, law enforcement, the court system and prosecutors do have access to the original conviction records.
Sealing versus removal
Removal results in the complete destruction of the records from the state court system. However, when the court seals the records, law enforcement can access them but the public cannot.
To get the best results, defendants should investigate their state laws and expungement process.