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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The holding is limited, though, because a new expungement law enacted this year repealed the prior section and made clear that the new law would be on the trial court’s side.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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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