Indiana Governor Mike Pence has recently signed two new Indiana House Bills into law. House Enrolled Acts 1482 and 1006 will both make positive changes to the criminal system in the state. While both Acts will have a major effect on the criminal law, they are quite different.
Indiana House Enrolled Act 1482
House Enrolled Act 1482 is set to take effect on July 1, 2013, and it allows for the expungement of misdemeanors and class D felonies in the state. Former offenders with misdemeanors and less serious felony convictions on their record must wait five years from the completion of sentence before they are eligible to petition for Indiana expungement. For serious felony convictions, one must wait between eight to ten years before they become eligible, depending on the offense committed. In such cases, the Judge that hears the matter will have sole discretion over whether or not the conviction should be expunged. The Act states that once a conviction is expunged, a potential employer may not take the expunged conviction into consideration during the hiring process in Indiana.
House Enrolled Act 1482 also requires that the record of arrests that did not lead to a conviction be sealed and hidden from public view. The previous law allowed for the sealing of the arrest records through criminal justice agencies and controlled the dissemination of the records to non-criminal justice agencies, but did not allow for the sealing of the court records.
Indiana House Enrolled Act 1006
The second change to the criminal system is the product of five years of tracking and compiling information on crime and punishment by lawmakers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in Indiana. House Enrolled Act 1006 will go into effect on July 1, 2014, and represents a massive upheaval of the felony classification system. The Act will expand the number of felony levels from four to six, and changes the punishment of lower level felonies to include confinement in county jail or community correction programs rather than confinement in state prison. The Act also amends the previous law that requires that a felon serve a minimum of 50% of their sentence before their release. The new Act requires that a felon complete 75% of their sentence before they are eligible for early release. House Enrolled Act 1006 is the first effort to rebalance the Indiana criminal system since the 1970’s.
The two Acts combined represent the effort of Indiana lawmakers to create balance and reduce recidivism rates in the state. The intent is to be hard on crime, but to allow for a former offender to get back on their feet once they are able to prove to a judge that they have truly become rehabilitated, and the Governor agrees. According to Governor Pence, “Indiana should be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime and the best place, once you’ve done your time, to get a second chance.”