Bill signed into law gives nonviolent offenders a fresh start
STATEHOUSE – A bill to eliminate or expunge non-violent, felony or misdemeanor charges was signed into law today by Governor Mike Pence. Coauthored by State Representative P. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1482 gives ex-offenders a second chance and a means to get back to work.
“I have been working on this legislation for years to give Hoosiers a second chance. Our judicial system isn’t supposed to be strictly punitive. It should be focused on reformation and rehabilitation as a means to reduce recidivism. People make mistakes and once they have paid their debt to society, all they want to do is get on with their lives and provide for their family,” said Rep. Turner. “This law is a positive step forward to improving the lives of Hoosiers.”
HEA 1482 allows a sentencing court to seal the records of a person who was arrested but not prosecuted or whose conviction was overturned on appeal one year after the arrest was made. Additionally, the bill permits an individual to expunge a misdemeanor conviction after five years and certain non-violent and non-sexual Class D felony convictions eight years after the arrest was made.
A 2012 National Institute of Justice study shows, that nearly one-third of American adults have been arrested by age 23. Currently, state law allows an individual convicted of a crime to petition the sentencing court to restrict disclosure of such charges. The law also includes a provision that a sentencing court may convert a Class D felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor after three years has transpired since completion of their sentence agreement.
An individual may only petition for expungement once in their lifetime, and HEA 1482 permits a law enforcement officer to access certain expunged records without a court order. Moreover, the bill makes the Indiana State Police maintain the criminal history information at the central repository.
“I am pleased this bill became law as Indiana has moved in concurrence with thirty-three other states that have an expungement policy in place. This isn’t uncharted territory here,” said Rep. Turner. “I understand it can be difficult for those with prior convictions to rebuild their lives in our society, and while we should certainly hold them accountable for their actions, those who have made mistakes should not be handcuffed by our justice system forever. They deserve an avenue and an opportunity to make a mends with their life; they deserve a second chance.”
Last session, the Legislature passed a bill, advocated by Rep. Turner, that sealed records for Class D felonies and misdemeanors for non-sexual and non-violent crimes if eight years have passed since completing the sentence. HEA 1482 is an extension of that bill which was called the Second Chance Act.
Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information regarding HEA 1482.