Many people believe that juvenile delinquency records are automatically sealed or expunged once an individual reaches the age of 18. This is not the case in Indiana. While some juvenile true findings (the juvenile equivalent of a criminal conviction) are automatically expunged after a certain time period, others remain on a delinquency record unless or until an expungement petition is granted.
I.C. 31-39-8-3.5 orders juvenile delinquency courts to expunge all misdemeanors from an individual’s record without a hearing once the individual reaches the age of 19. For all felony true findings, the process is a little different.
For felony true findings, the court has discretion as to whether the expungement should be granted or not. I.C. 31-39-8-2 provides that a person, at any time, can petition the court to remove a juvenile true finding from court, law enforcement agency, and service provider files. If the expungement is granted, all records are removed to a secure database to which the public and others lacking authority would not have access to them. This statute is noticeably different from the adult code, which requires an individual to wait eight years before petitioning to expunge a felony conviction. The juvenile code allows individuals to petition the court at any time to expunge a felony true finding, with no wait period requirement.
To begin the process, a verified petition must be filed in the appropriate jurisdiction, listing specific information about the case and the individual seeking the expungement. If all appropriate parties are served with the petition, and the state files a timely objection to the petition, the court must set a hearing for parties to present their respective arguments.
At the expungement hearing, the juvenile court judge may take into consideration:
- The best interests of the individual;
- The age of the individual requesting the expungement;
- The nature of the true finding;
- The disposition (outcome) of the case;
- The services completed by the individual;
- How much time has passed since the true finding;
- Whether or not the individual has an adult criminal record; and
- Whether or not the individual has a mental health issue and is receiving/has received treatment for that issue if the true finding is a serious violent felony as defined by I.C. 35-47-4-5.
Do you or someone you know have a felony true finding on their record that needs to be expunged? Contact the experienced attorneys at Banks and Brower anytime at 317-870-0019 or by emailing at email@example.com.