How to Expunge Your Juvenile Records in Indiana

It is not uncommon for people to assume that juvenile criminal records are immediately sealed or erased once a minor reaches the age of 18. However, this is not always the case. In fact, in Indiana, juvenile delinquency records have the potential to remain on the defendant’s criminal record unless an expungement is granted. This may not be true in every case, but if you hope to get your juvenile records off your criminal background check, you may need to petition the juvenile court system for an expunction.

Indiana Juvenile Expungement Laws

Juvenile delinquency courts are required to expunge misdemeanor convictions from a minor’s record without a hearing once the juvenile reaches the age of 19 under I.C. 31-39-8-3.5. However, if a juvenile is found guilty of a felony offense, the process for expungement is slightly different. The juvenile court system has the discretion to grant or deny expungement for felony convictions.

Indiana law under I.C. 31-39-8-2 allows individuals with juvenile convictions to petition the court for an expungement at any time, with no waiting period. If expungement is granted, the conviction will no longer appear in service provider, court, or law enforcement agency files. These records will be moved to a secure database where it is not available as public records. This is much different from the adult expungement code under I.C. 35-38-9 which requires those convicted of felony offenses to endure an eight-year waiting period before petitioning for expungement.

Factors Taken Into Consideration When Seeking Expunction

Multiple factors will be taken into account when determining whether juvenile felony convictions should be expunged. Some of these factors include:

  • The nature of the conviction
  • What is the best interest of the petitioner
  • The outcome of the criminal case
  • Whether the petitioner has an adult criminal record
  • How much time has passed since the conviction
  • The age of the petitioner requesting expungement
  • The petitioner’s current status regarding their home and professional life
  • Reasons for requesting an expungement
  • Whether the initial conviction is considered a “serious violent felony” defined under I.C. 35-47-4-5
  • Whether the petitioner has any mental health issues

How to Apply for Juvenile Record Expungement

Once you know whether your juvenile records need to be formally expunged, you can begin by filing a petition in the jurisdiction where you were convicted. You will need to include specific information about the crime you were convicted of as part of the petition.

The state then has the option of objecting to your petition. If this is the case, you can expect the Indiana Juvenile Court system to set a hearing where both parties can argue their reasons for requesting and objecting to the expungement. It may be in your best interests to bring evidence to show the judge how you have thrived post-conviction. Some of the most compelling types of evidence can include:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Paystubs
  • A copy of your class schedule
  • Testimony from friends and family
  • Financial records that prove you have been responsible

From there, the judge will hear both parties’ arguments and determine whether it is in the best interests of both the juvenile offender and society for the conviction to be expunged. If the decision comes down in your favor, your juvenile conviction will be sealed, effectively erased, and you will be under no legal obligation to disclose the conviction going forward.