Commitment To Justice

Is there a difference between record expungement and sealing in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Expungements

Most states have laws that allow individuals to get rid of – or at least hide – records of arrests, criminal convictions or both. These are commonly referred to as “expungement” laws. They work a little differently in each state, and the associated legal terms have different shades of meaning depending on which state you’re in.

Indiana law does allow individuals to petition courts to hide their criminal records from public view, and you’ll often see the terms expungement and sealing used together. You may be wondering: Do these mean the same thing, or are there differences?

To most Indiana residents, there is no real difference

There are technically differences between expungement and record sealing in Indiana, but those differences are insignificant to most people seeking to combat the consequences associated with an old criminal record.

The commonly accepted definition of “expunge” is to destroy or erase something. However, criminal records are not completely destroyed or erased in Indiana. Whether you are expunging or sealing a criminal record, it becomes hidden from public view. Only law enforcement (police, prosecutors and investigative agencies) can access them. They will not otherwise appear in a criminal background check, and individuals with sealed or expunged records can deny that they have been arrested for or convicted of a crime.

The details matter, which is why you should work with an attorney

Applying to have your criminal record expunged or sealed can be tricky and time-consuming. It’s not always easy to understand when and whether you may be eligible to petition, or how to do so. Thankfully help is available. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that your petition is not delayed or denied by preventable errors and omissions.