In Indiana, a proposed bill authored by Representative Jud McMillan intends to give individuals convicted of certain offenses a new lease on life by allowing the expungement of certain misdemeanor and felony convictions.
While House Bill 1482 is viewed by some as a way to encourage former offenders to get their lives back on track and become productive members of society, prosecutors are concerned about its potential effect on the state’s judicial system.
House Bill 1482 was introduced in the House by Representative McMillan on January 22, 2013, and was passed in the House by a vote of 82-17 on February 5th. It is currently on the Senate floor awaiting their decision.
If passed, the Bill will allow individuals convicted of misdemeanors and minor Class D felonies to expunge their record five years from the date of their conviction if they have not been convicted of a subsequent offense. Furthermore, the Bill requires that a judge restrict access to an arrest record if it has not led to a conviction a year after the arrest date. For Class D felonies that have not been reduced to misdemeanors, the petitioner must wait eight years to file a petition for expungement. For other serious felonies, a person may seek expungement ten years after conviction if the prosecutor consents to the filing of expungement. Serious felonies, such as sex offenses or a crime causing serious harm to another, are not eligible for expungement.
Some prosecutors and lawmakers are concerned that the Bill will burden courts, and will flood court dockets with expungement petitions, but according to Representative McMillan and sponsoring Representatives Eric Turner and Matt Ubelhor, the Bill will give individuals employment opportunities that were not available to them due to their criminal history. Furthermore, the Bill may erase records which they feel should not be erased. Despite the opposition, many lawmakers feel the Bill will allow individuals with convictions to turn their lives around and become integrated back into society.