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Old expungement law applies to dropped charges in plea deal, COA rules

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A man who sought to expunge arrest records for charges that were dismissed in a 2011 plea agreement was denied at the trial court but convinced the Indiana Court of Appeals that access to those records should be restricted.

Alec Lucas pleaded guilty to Class D felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and dealing marijuana, and the state dismissed a D felony count of dealing marijuana, a misdemeanor minor in possession of alcohol count and traffic infractions.

Lucas later filed a petition under I.C. 35-38-5-5.5 to restrict access to the dismissed charges. Marion Superior Judge James Osborn denied the request, concluding that the statute doesn’t apply in instances where some charges are dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement, but others are not.

“While the statute is not a model of clarity, we conclude that it was intended to apply to any dismissed charge and not just in cases where all charges have been dismissed,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel, in Alec Lucas v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1301-CR-51, reversing and remanding to the trial court.

The holding is limited, though, because a new expungement law enacted this year repealed the prior section and made clear that the new law would be on the trial court’s side.

“New Section 35-38-9-1 allows a person to petition a court to seal arrest records if: ‘(1) the arrest did not result in a conviction or juvenile adjudication; or (2) the arrest resulted in a conviction or juvenile adjudication and the conviction or adjudication was vacated on appeal,’” Crone wrote. “The trial court’s approach, however, was more consistent with the new statute than with the statute in effect at the time.”

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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