There is hardly a week that goes by that I don’t receive at least one or two calls from people wanting to know if they can have an arrest record or criminal conviction expunged (removed) from their record. In most cases, the call comes from someone that was convicted of a crime many years ago, they’ve changed their lives in a positive way but the old conviction(s) continue to prevent them from getting good jobs, housing, school loans etcetera.

Sadly, on most occasions when I receive such calls, I have to be the bearer of bad news—in Indiana, with few exceptions, criminal convictions remain on your record and follow you to the grave. I know. I know. So what are the exceptions? Glad you asked.

In Indiana, it is possible to have an arrest record (not to be confused with a conviction), expunged if: 1) you were arrested but no criminal charges were ever filed; or 2) you were arrested and criminal charges were filed, but all charges were dropped because of mistaken identity, no offense was actually committed, or an absence of probable cause.

So how does it happen? A petition must be filed with the proper court, once the petition is filed, any law enforcement agency that disagrees has 30 days to file a notice of opposition to prevent the expungement. At this point, the Court can grant or deny the expungement or set the matter for hearing. It is important to note that you cannot have a record of other arrests (except for minor traffic offenses) and you cannot have additional criminal charges pending against you.

Although criminal convictions are not expunged, if more than 15 years has passed since you completed probation, imprisonment or parole, you can petition the Indiana State Police to limit access to your criminal history to law enforcement agencies only, so that apartment complexes, employers and other non-law enforcement agencies cannot access your criminal history.