What Sex Crimes Can Be Expunged in Indiana?
Like any category of crime in Indiana, those of a sexual nature cover a broad spectrum. To be considered a “sex offender” is to be lumped into a group with persons who may have forcibly raped their victim, may have lured children into sex slavery, or who may have engaged in sexual activity with a minor.
Indiana is committed to strict enforcement of its sex crime laws. The passing of Indiana’s Second Chance Law in 2013 did not give most sex offenders a pass to have their conviction records expunged; however, it did give hope to those most Hoosiers would agree can be forgiven the mistakes of their past.
The criminal code is complex, so let’s break sexual offenders into three groups: those who are ineligible for expungement, those who are possibly eligible, and those who are probably eligible.
INELIGIBLE: MOST SEXUAL FELONIES
The majority of the most commonly convicted sex crimes fall into this category. Indiana believes pretty strongly in protecting sex offenders from the public (and from themselves) for life.
This is a partial list of offenses that the offender will not be able to shake from their permanent record:
- Child molesting (use of minor for sexual stimulation)
- Child exploitation (offer of money, goods or services in exchange for sex with a minor)
- Sexual battery (virtually any unwanted sexual touch)
- Sexual trafficking
In other words, while there may be other legal avenues for these sexual offenders to take to improve their quality of life once they have rehabilitated, expungement is not one of them.
POSSIBLY ELIGIBLE: SEXUAL MISCONDUCT WITH A MINOR, CLASS C FELONY OR BELOW
The Second Chance Law is explicit that the opportunity for offenders to have their records expunged does not apply to “a sex or violent offender (as defined in IC 11-8-8-5).” There is just one exception to that definition in this section of the Indiana code.
Under the following circumstances, “sexual misconduct with a minor” falls under the definition of a “sex offender” unless:
- (A) the person is convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class C felony (for a crime committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 5 felony (for a crime committed after June 30, 2014);
- (B) the person is not more than:
- (i) four (4) years older than the victim if the offense was committed after June 30, 2007; or
- (ii) five (5) years older than the victim if the offense was committed before July 1, 2007; and
- (C) the sentencing court finds that the person should not be required to register as a sex offender.
For example, a 30-year-old man who, when he was 18, engaged in consensual sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl, may be able to have his record expunged. These “Romeo and Juliet” situations are about the only exception to the rule. This is the only place where the word “unless” is used in IC 11-8-8-5.
Other conditions apply, including a squeaky clean record since the offender served time. It’s also worth noting the application can be denied for any reason. That said, with qualified legal help, there is at least a chance.
PROBABLY ELIGIBLE: ARRESTED, BUT NOT CONVICTED
None of this applies to individuals who were accused and arrested for a sexual crime but were never actually convicted in a court of law. The right to apply for expungement of arrest records existed in Indiana before the Second Chance Law came around, and certainly still applies today.
If you were arrested for a crime you did not commit, or know someone who did, you know how devastating the stigma of that accusation can be. Good luck finding a job when all an employer sees is a pedophile, a rapist, you name it, even when you have done nothing to earn that label.
Is this you? Contact our office today to start discussing whether we can help you get a clean slate in Indiana.
*(Indiana switched from a Class system to a Level system in 2014. Since there has to be at least 10 years since an offender has completed their sentence before they can apply for expungement, we’re still talking in terms of classes if you’re reading this prior to 2024.)