Old expungement law turns good luck to bad

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A man’s good luck at never being charged with a crime despite four arrests turned bad when he tried to get his record expunged.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of H.M.’s four petitions to restrict the disclosure of his arrest records, finding he was not eligible for expungement under the former expungement law.

H.M. was arrested multiple times between December 1993 and January 2002 for a variety of incidents including battery, public intoxication, criminal trespass, theft and receiving stolen property. Each time, the state did not file charges.

In February 2013, he filed petitions to restrict the disclosure of his four arrest records. His request was considered under the state’s old expungement statute contained in Indiana Code 35-38-5-5.5.

The Court of Appeals noted the former law applies in this case because H.M. filed his petitions and the trial court summarily denied the petitions before Indiana’s new expungement law was enacted on July 1, 2013.

Agreeing with H.M. that “charge” and “to charge” are not defined in the state’s criminal statutes, the Court of Appeals found guidance in I.C. 35-33-1-1 and Epperson v. State 530, N.E.2d 743, 746 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988) which hold that criminal prosecution can start only with the filing of an information or indictment.

Since prosecuting attorneys never filed charges after H.M. was arrested, H.M. was not “charged,” the COA concluded in H.M. v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1304-CR-157. Therefore, he is not eligible to restrict the disclosure of his arrest records.


  • restricted access v. expungement
    Technically speaking, H.M. should have filed under 35-38-5-1 which is the actual expungement provision under the 'old law'. And also technically speaking, this part of the old law was not repealed when 35-38-9 went into effect. I don't know whether s/he was represented at the superior court level, but if s/he was self-represented this might have been a 'simple' issue of using the incorrect form. The article is not careful with the jargon surrounding this type of case. Expungement, sealing, and restricted access all had different meanings, just as ‘sealing’ and ‘expungement’ have different meanings now that the law has changed #superconfusing. If H.M. had asked for expungement it should have been granted, but H.M. apparently asked for 'restricted access' which is NOT the same thing. At the end of the day, the point of these laws is to make it possible for someone to get a job! Call it what you will, folks who have 'paid their debt' (sentence, parole, probation, fees, etc.) should not continue to be punished for years, even decades, after. Most folks have no idea that ANY arrest results in an entry on their criminal history and it DOES NOT magically go away. I’ve seen IMPD reports, mostly of arrests not resulting in convictions, that go back to 1968!!! How do we expect them to move at any kind of ‘upward trajectory’ if they can never get away from things done (or *not* done, in the case of dismissed/not filed charges) in the past?

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.