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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.

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  • 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 And also technically speaking, this part of the old law was not repealed when 35-38-9 went into effect.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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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