INDIANAPOLIS (www.incnow.tv) -- A bill that will allow thousands of criminal convictions to be erased is headed to the Governor’s desk after passing in the House with a 78-19 vote.
About the state’s first-ever law allowing criminal convictions at various levels to be erased, the bill’s author, Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), said “making a mistake doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily a bad person. Making a mistake means you are a human being.” According to the Journal Gazette, he continued by saying that those convicted of these criminal acts “shouldn’t have to live with it forever.”
In general, the bill won’t allow most sex and violent offenders, such as those convicted of a homicide charge, to be eligible to have their record cleared. Some crimes involving bodily harm, such as battery and driving while intoxicated causing death, would be eligible.
Only one petition to erase a criminal record can be filed in a person’s lifetime but the petition can cover more than one crime.
Bill supporters say this is a measure that would allow for redemption and that those convicted have paid their debt to society.
If a person is seeking to remove misdemeanor convictions, has completed the sentence, has no pending charges and hasn’t been convicted of another crime in the last five years, a local court judge must erase the record.
A similar process is used for Class D felony convictions which must be erased eight years after a conviction.
The Journal Gazette reports that for these types of crimes the records would be removed from public view but law enforcement can still access them.
For more serious felonies, a petition can be filed eight years after the end of the sentence, and for crimes resulting in serious bodily injuries a petition can be filed ten years after the end of a sentence but in both cases a judge has discretion whether or not to grant the removal of the criminal record.
In these cases, records would be available to the public but are marked as expunged.
The legislation also changes how employers are allowed to ask about past criminal history. Now, prospective employees will be asked, “have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has not been expunged by a court?”
Governor Pence has not indicated his position on this legislation.
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