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Court correctly denied petition to expunge felony conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals, citing a recent expungement case involving a misdemeanor conviction, agreed with the rationale of that panel that if a person violates the terms of probation, that person did not successfully complete his sentence.

Jereme Lee Wall sought to have his February 1992 conviction of Class C felony criminal mischief expunged. He had all but 120 days of his sentence suspended to probation. But the trial court denied his request, citing that in 1993, Wall admitted to violating his probation by not updating his address with the probation department, resulting in the revocation of the balance of his sentence.  

Indiana Code 35-38-9-4, in effect when Wall filed his expungement petition in September 2013, required that the person seeking expungement have successfully completed the person’s sentence, including any term of supervised release, and satisfied all other obligations placed on the person as part of the sentence.

Wall argued he successfully completed his sentence and term of supervised release, so the trial court was required to expunge his conviction. In Alvey v. State, 20A04-1310-MI-533, the Court of Appeals last month dealt with a similar argument under the statute for misdemeanor convictions. That panel found because Craig Alvey twice admitted to violating probation, he did not “successfully complete” his sentence. The panel noted that the intent of the General Assembly was to allow those who completed their sentences without incident to petition for expungement.

The judges Wednesday agreed with their colleagues.

“We think that the legislature had the same intent in drafting Section 35-38-9-4, which applies to felony convictions. In this case, Wall admitted to violating the terms of his probation, and by doing so he failed to successfully complete his sentence. Wall contends that his probation violation was a ‘technical’ one,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “However, Section 35-38-9-4 does not distinguish between major and minor violations. Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the trial court properly denied Wall’s petition to expunge his conviction.”

The case is Jereme Lee Wall v. Alfred H. Plummer, III, 85A02-1311-MI-976.


 

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