All criminal cases are public record. Even those cases that did not result in a conviction remain publicly accessible. Consequently, if you have ever been charged with a crime in Indiana but you engaged in a deferral program, or the case was dismissed, or even if you were found not guilty, that criminal case still shows up in your criminal history. People often believe that if they completed a deferral program they have no criminal history. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Although there is a sizable difference between a criminal conviction and a criminal charge, public perception rarely differentiates the two.
Take for example a 25-year-old getting ready to enter the professional workforce. When he was 18 he was charged with possession of an illegal substance, but he successfully completed a deferral program and no conviction was entered. When he was 20, while at a college party where alcohol was present, he was charged with drinking alcohol under the legal age limit. Through a probation program, he stayed out of trouble for one year and the charge was later dismissed. This person was never found guilty of any crime. However, when his potential new employer pulled his criminal history he found that he had two cases filed against him, and without delving into the details the employer looks at the other applicants who have no record.
This example illustrates why a person without a criminal conviction record should seek to expunge their criminal record.
Indiana’s sealing and expungement statutes allow individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes to wipe their record clean. However, those same statutes can be utilized to clean up someone’s criminal record that only contain charges and no convictions. In fact, unlike expunging a criminal conviction, expunging criminal records which did not lead to a conviction have fewer restrictions and are, therefore, easier to obtain.
If you, or someone you know, were charged with a crime and would like a cleaned record, you will need to seek a qualified attorney who can advise you on your rights and options.