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New law allows for restricted record access for certain crimes

July 1, 2011

A change in state law that starts Friday allows non-violent offenders to have their criminal records sealed for misdemeanor and Class D felonies. An Indianapolis man is already filing a petition asking the Marion Superior Court to limit access to records involving two money conversion convictions.

This past session, the General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 121, referred to as the new “second-chance” law. This allows individuals convicted of certain offenses that weren’t violent or sex crimes to request restricted access to arrest and criminal records after eight years since they completed a sentence. The new law’s limited to misdemeanors and Class D felonies, and it only limits access rather than expunging a person’s record completely.

HEA 1211 also allows people to request that limited record access if he or she was not prosecuted, if the charges were dismissed, if acquitted, or if the conviction was later vacated.

If a court grants the request, an individual would not be required to disclose the conviction on employment applications or any other documents outside of the criminal justice system.

The legislation’s co-sponsor, Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, a civil attorney with Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan, held a press conference about the new statute outside the City-County Building in Indianapolis where resident Quinn Minor joined him before filing his petition. Minor received two "low-value" convictions in 1997 and 1999, and since completing his home detention and probation sentences, he has had trouble trying to find employment as a result of those being listed on his record.

“I’ve owned my own business, gone back to school, and raised a family with my wife of 13 years,” Minor said. “I paid my dues for these crimes, and I think my family deserves the opportunity to move forward without my old mistakes limiting our future.”

The Indiana State Police is responsible for the general aspect of limiting access to criminal histories, and about two dozen requests had been filed during the past three years through November 2010. A legislative fiscal analysis earlier this year said it wasn’t clear how many people this new law could effect.

A spokeswoman for the Indiana Senate Democrats said they have contaced the Indiana Supreme Court in hopes of having a form created for pro se petitioners.

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