Your criminal past doesn’t have to define your present and future circumstances. Under Indiana law, you could begin your second chance at life with a clean slate through expungement of juvenile records, which include juvenile delinquency, dismissed charges and arrests.
However, unlike common misconceptions, the expungement procedure isn’t automatic when you become of legal age. Learning about your options and the significant impact of this process on your long-term personal and professional objectives can only help you with a fresh start.
You have two options to ask the Indiana court about your juvenile records: to seal or to destroy. After waiting a year, sealing means your records are not accessible to the public, but the court keeps a copy. This option is for cases not resulting in adjudication after an arrest, ended up in court but later dismissed or your case won the trial.
Permanent destruction or expungement of your records is naturally better without anyone having the chance to ever see them. Upon your request, the judge reviews the following relevant factors before deciding:
- The nature of your juvenile case
- Your juvenile case’s outcome, adjustments and final adjudication
- Your manner of participation during court proceedings
- Whether you obtained a felony conviction or other criminal charges in adult court
- If you have been responsible with your actions since your last contact with law enforcement
- Your present status and whether you are under treatment for a mental illness or disability
- Specific reasons for your request
To strengthen your case, you can present supporting documents to your court hearing, like recommendation letters from reliable sources, paperwork showing diligent payments on basic rent and utilities, and other similar files demonstrating current favorable conditions.
The significance of expungement
Clear records remove significant barriers in the following facets of your life:
- Existing employment or potential job applications
- Higher education, loan and housing applications
- Professional and firearms licensures
- Child custody matters
State law doesn’t limit how often you can file a petition. But you must list every record in your expungement petition. It will help to discuss certain exceptions to your cases leading to an arrest with a legal adviser.
Growing from past mistakes
The social stigma of juvenile records casts a long shadow. It helps to have a legal team steer you in the right direction in completely obliterating your juvenile records as you begin anew.