Learning How To Put A Troubled Criminal Past Behind You

By Emma Koch - 21Alive
By Jeff Neumeyer

October 10, 2013 Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 5:28 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Putting a "black mark" behind you once and for all.

Folks in the Fort Wayne area had the opportunity Thursday to find out how to eliminate things from a criminal record.

But Indiana's new "Second Chance Law" is not about snapping your fingers and seeing your record wiped clean.

You've got to jump through some hoops to expunge old arrests or convictions, but it's now within the realm of possibility.

Two informational forums on the second chance law were scheduled in Fort Wayne, including one on the IPFW campus.

The law is complicated, but it generally allows misdemeanor offenders and certain non-violent felons who meet requirements to file petitions to have their criminal records expunged between five and 8 years after their full sentence is served.

If you fill out the petition improperly, it can be tossed out of court and you face a forced delay before filing again.

" If you don't get good legal advice you can miss convictions that you might have been able to expunge, you can get your petition denied and have to wait three more years and you waste the money for the filing fee," said Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who took part in the forum.

“ It will help out getting them a job, their dream job they always wanted, anything like that you know, it's a start," said Ronald Cloyd, who attended the IPFW forum to learn more about the law.

One of the biggest benefits to ex-offenders comes in the area of applying for jobs.

If someone gets his or her record expunged under the new statute, an employer can't consider that old crime when reviewing the job application.

To do so would be a class "C" infraction for violating the statute's anti-discrimination provision.

The Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males hosted the forums.

The second forum was held Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. at Turner Chapel AME Church on Jefferson Blvd.

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