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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ind. Law - "Bill that tweaks expungement law headed to full House"

Hannah Troyer of the $$ Statehouse File reports that:

INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers set to work Wednesday fine-tuning a law passed last year that gives some convicted felons the ability to expunge their crimes from their records.

House Bill 1155 is the result of time the author – Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville – spent last summer traveling the state and discussing the expungement law’s successes and problems with prosecutors, attorneys and other court officials.

The House Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee passed the bill 10-2 on Wednesday after some amendments. It now moves to the full House for consideration.

Some of the changes are meant to help make the process easier for defendants.

McMillin told the committee that the bill fixed the “poison pill” issue with the original law – that a defendant couldn’t fix a petition once it was filed.

“That really scared a lot of people,” McMillin said. “And what we are including in now is an opportunity. We are basically allowing folks, that if in good faith if you screwed something up, you can file an amendment to your petition and change it.” * * *

If passed, the bill would allow law enforcement officials, attorneys and prosecutors to see all expunged records if it is helpful to a current case.

It would also allow employers to see the records if an applicant or employee had expunged a serious crime. But some committee members expressed concern that employers would still not be able to see all of a person’s criminal history if it was expunged.

“It’s important to note that the only ones that are sealed from employers seeing them are misdemeanors and D felonies where no one gets hurt,” McMillin said. “If it’s anything above that, which most employers would be concerned with, employers still get to see them even if they are expunged. They will have the opportunity to see that someone has committed a crime. But, it prevents them from using that info to discriminate against that individual.”

Since the expungement process became law last summer, courts across the state have had a large number of filings. McMillin said his bill would change how the courts handle future cases.

Currently, the law requires that defendants file in the same court in which their convictions occurred. The bill would let them file the case in any court in the county of conviction.

“That will allow people to consolidate their cases in one location,” he said. “The court is now in the process of attempting to create a separate cause number that only deals with expungement. People are filing this stuff a lot to such a degree that the court feels like it would be justified having its own individual cause number. It will also allow the court to enact rules that protect confidentiality so people don’t have something accidentally still available for people to see.”

ILB: The introduced bill is 18-pages long and looks to make many changes. The committee amendments are not yet available, as of this writing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 16, 2014 09:54 AM
Posted to Indiana Law