New Law Limits Access to Criminal History

A change in state law this month allows non-violent offenders to have their criminal records sealed for misdemeanor and Class D felonies. The law, which went into effect on July 1, allows Indiana ex-offenders to file a petition with the court in which they were tried eight (8) years following the completion of their sentence to have their criminal records sealed.

If a court grants the petition request, an individual would not be required to disclose the conviction on employment applications or any other documents outside of the criminal justice system. Furthermore, it gives ex-offenders the ability to legally state on an application for employment that they have not been convicted or arrested for a crime, removing a large barrier in finding employment.

"Every legislative session, new laws pass that directly impact the lives of Hoosiers," said Jamal L. Smith, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. "It's important that we share this information with people so that everyone has a clear understanding of their rights."

The Indiana State Police is responsible for limiting access to criminal histories, and about two dozen requests had been filed during the past three years through November 2010. A legislative fiscal analysis earlier this year said it wasn’t clear how many people this new law could effect.

Indiana Civil Rights Laws provide protection for all Indiana residents and prevent illegal discrimination based on a person’s: race, color, gender, national origin, ancestry, religion or disability in the areas of: employment, real estate, public accommodation, education and credit. However, state law does not prohibit employers from using criminal history to make hiring decisions.

For more information about this new law, or your rights and responsibilities under Indiana Civil Rights Laws, contact the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at (800) 628-2909 or visit us on-line at