In Indiana, it has long been possible to expunge a juvenile delinquency record. However, like so much in juvenile court, there is geographic disparity. The number of requests for expungement vary widely from county-to-county according to anecdotal accounts. In some counties, such as Marion County, there is a formal process where children are reminded of their ability to expunge the juvenile court records and public defenders are assigned to handle the procedure. Many other counties have no such processes in place.
The Indiana trial court statistics do not have a separate statistic for expungement cases, so real data is not easily accessible. It would be helpful to standardize the expungement delivery process and provide statistics on the number of times the process is being utilized from county-to-county.
An expungement removes the court files, any law enforcement files, and the files of any person who provided services to a child under a court order that are related to the juvenile court case. IC 31-39-8-2. Any expunged records may be destroyed or given to the person to whom the records pertain. IC 31-39-8-6.
Applying IC 31-39-8-3, in determining whether to grant an expungement, the court must consider certain factors in an expungement petition:
- the best interest of the child;
- the age of the person during the person’s contact with the juvenile court or law enforcement agency;
- the nature of any allegations;
- whether there was an informal adjustment or an adjudication;
- the disposition of the case;
- the manner in which the person participated in any court ordered or supervised services;
- the time during which the person has been without contact with the juvenile court or with any law enforcement agency;
- whether the person acquired a criminal record; and
- the person’s current status.
This procedure is different than the law that went into effect July 1, 2013, which allows a person to expunge a criminal record under certain circumstances.
Finally, there is no way to “seal” a juvenile court record in Indiana.