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Court wrongly denied expungement of dismissed conviction

March 10, 2015

A man’s 1999 misdemeanor battery conviction that was dismissed when he completed his one-year probation sentence must be expunged, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, reversing a trial court that denied his petition.

J.B. pleaded guilty to the Class A misdemeanor which he sought to remove from his permanent record. Monroe Superior Judge Marc R. Kellams III denied the petition, reasoning that because J.B. earned a dismissal of the conviction in 2006, he was “not eligible for expungement of conviction as there is no conviction to expunge.”

Writing for the panel, Judge Patricia Riley noted the public policy interest in removing the stigma associated with a criminal conviction for those who have a clean record for years afterward. The expungement statute prohibits public release of records related to an arrest and/or conviction.

“In this case, it is undisputed that the requisite amount of time has passed, that no charges are currently pending against J.B., that J.B. has paid all fees and he satisfactorily completed his probation, and that he has not been convicted of any crimes within the previous five years,” Riley wrote. “Accordingly, the only question before our court is whether the trial court’s 2006 dismissal of J.B.’s conviction disqualifies him from having his conviction expunged. We hold that it does not.

“(W)e find that the dismissal of J.B.’s conviction would be meaningless if the records concerning that conviction were to remain accessible, and we cannot conclude that the General Assembly would have intended such a result. Accordingly, we remand with instructions for the trial court to order the conviction records described in Indiana Code section 35-38-9-2(b) to be expunged in accordance with Indiana Code section 35-38-9-6,” she wrote.

The case is J.B. v. State of Indiana, 53A01-1408-CR-367.

 

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