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COA allows juvenile expungement despite pending charge

October 19, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals has allowed a Marion County man’s juvenile record to be expunged after finding that a criminal charge that was filed against him after he filed a petition for expungement cannot be held against him in the expungement case.

In T.A. v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1602-JV-368, T.A. was involved in multiple cases within the juvenile justice system. One case was dismissed in 2012, three were dismissed in 2013, and he was arrested in 2008 and 2009 but no formal delinquency petitions were filed.

In December 2015, T.A., now an adult, filed a petition for expungement for each of the six cases between 2008 and 2013. Between the time of T.A.’s petition filing and a hearing in January 2016, the state filed an unspecified criminal charge against him. His petition for expungement was eventually denied in its entirety.

In his appeal, T.A. argued that his petition should have been immediately granted because he met all of the statutory requirements on the date his petition was filed. But the state argued that because there was a pending criminal charge against T.A. and because it had an interest in maintaining access to all of his records, the juvenile court did not err.

T.A. argued that state code requires a juvenile court to act upon an expungement petition immediately without scheduling a hearing, but the Indiana Court of Appeals wrote Wednesday that the statute says the court “may” grant a petition without a hearing, not “must.”

However, the Court of Appeals did agree with T.A. that the statute — which reads, in part, that the petition shall be granted “upon receipt” unless there are pending criminal charges — means that the pending criminal charges must be present at the time of the filing, not at a later date.

The state did not claim that T.A.’s petition violated any other statutory requirement for expungement. Thus, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision to deny his petition and remanded the case with instructions that the petition be granted.


 

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