Here is How to Get Your Life Back After a Theft Conviction

how to get your life back after a theft conviction

Your shoplifting days are over. You haven’t jacked a car in over a decade. You wouldn’t even pick up a candy bar if it fell out of a vending machine.

The thief you once were is gone, but the black mark on your record carries on.

Felon. That’s what they called you. It’s a label you can’t quite shake, everywhere you go. The bus station, the grocery store, even church. Even when they call you an “ex-felon”, it still stings.

And word gets around, doesn’t it? Everybody knows. Not everybody judges you for it. Some people are fascinated. They want to know what you lifted, how much you took in. They want to hear about the con jobs. It’s entertainment to them.

Sometimes you play along, but usually you hate it. You know it gets around. You’re reminded of it every time you go to Work One. Here comes the felon.

Here comes the guy who has to check that little box that screams YES, I HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME.


Not all felonies are created equal. In Indiana, felonies are separated into six levels (seven, if you count murder, which is above all the rest). Rape, manslaughter, aggravated battery, arson: these are violent felonies.

When they call you a “felon”, or even an “ex-felon”, they’re lumping you in with all the rest. Maybe that’s why it ticks you off so much.

People might not make that distinction, but the law certainly does. Because yours was a non-violent crime, you may have an option others who have committed felonies in Indiana don’t.

You may be able to get your record wiped clean.


Eight years after completion of your sentence, you can apply for expungement of your theft conviction. Keep in mind, that’s not just prison time. That includes parole or any “other obligations” placed on you as part of your sentence.

Totally Free & Clear Day + 8 years. That’s your Expungement Day.

As long as:

  1. You can provide documentation that you completed your sentence and when.
  2. You have no charges pending against you.
  3. Your driver’s license is not suspended and there is no suspension pending.
  4. You haven’t been convicted of a crime since.

In other words, if you’ve kept your nose squeaky clean, you have a shot at putting your past behind you for good.


It’s basically a three-step process:

  1. You’ll need to write a petition and bring two copies to the clerk’s office of the county in which you were convicted. The long list of instructions is in the statute, IC 35-38-9-8 (toward the bottom).
  2. Then you get a cause number (an ID for your case), and your petition goes to the trial court that convicted you.
  3. After that, you wait to be notified of a hearing and whether or not your petition is granted.

Simple, right?

Not so fast …


You get one shot with this. One shot to make it nobody’s business, once and for all, what you did in a past life. One shot to deny an employer the ease of dismissing you because of your prior conviction.

One shot to no longer be a felon.

If the court denies your petition, you’re done. You cannot apply again. Why might they deny it? It says so right in the statute:

“(b) The court may summarily deny a person, if the petitioner (that’s you) does not meet the requirements of section 8 of this chapter, or if the statements contained in the petition demonstrate that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.”

In other words, you are at the mercy of the prosecuting attorney. Just as you stole whatever it was that landed you in prison so long ago, he or she can steal this chance to get past it away from you.


You need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side for this. Contact our office today to discuss your eligibility for expungement, and to make a winning game plan.

You may have committed theft, but that black mark has stolen too much of your life away. Let’s take it back.


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