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COA: PCR records can be expunged

March 5, 2018

The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned the denial of a man’s request for expungement of his post-conviction relief proceedings after determining the Allen Superior Court erred in finding PCR records are not covered by Indiana’s expungement statutes.

After being convicted of a Class A misdemeanor in April 2011, B.S. was granted post-conviction relief in August 2010. B.S. then petitioned to expunge all records related to his misdemeanor conviction in July 2017, but the Allen Superior Court agreed to expunge only the records related to his conviction, not the PCR proceedings.

The trial court found post-conviction proceedings could not be expunged under Indiana Code section 35-38-9-1, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed in a Monday opinion. Judge Melissa May, writing on an issue of first impression, said the relevant statute states “no information” related to expunged cases can be maintained, and “any records” must be sealed or redacted.

“Here, the intent and the policy underlying Indiana Code section 35-38-9-1 are the same as the intent and policy analyzed in (J.B. v. State, 558 N.E.3d 336 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015)), i.e., expungement allows an individual, who satisfies certain criteria, to escape the stigma of a criminal conviction by ‘sealing off the paper trail establishing that there ever was a conviction,’” May wrote. “B.S. because he qualifies for expungement under the statute, is able to escape the stigma of his now-overturned criminal conviction; however, in order to do so, all records pertaining to that conviction must be sealed.”

Thus, the appellate court reversed the partial denial of B.S.’s expungement petition and remanded the case of In Re: The Petition for Expungement of Conviction Records of: B.S. v. State of Indiana, 02A05-1710-XP-2262, with instructions to issue a new order in accordance with its opinion.

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