Indiana has passed a new criminal expungement law sometimes referred to as the “Second Chance Law.” The Second Chance Law allows certain classes of individuals to petition a court for an order significantly limiting most third parties’ ability to access the individuals’ prior criminal records. It also allows those duly convicted of a wide variety of crimes to restrict public access to their criminal records eight years after they successfully complete their sentence. For employers who conduct criminal background checks as part of their application process, the Second Chance Law significantly restricts their ability to discover applicants’ prior criminal conduct that may impact their suitability for employment. However, the law does contain exceptions that prohibit restricting access to records of crimes resulting in injury to persons or those classified as a Class C or higher felony.
Indiana’s Second Chance Law clearly aims to prevent employers from considering expunged/restricted criminal history information in hiring and employment decisions on the notion that certain criminal offenses should not function as barriers to employment. It imposes criminal penalties on agency employees who fail to restrict criminal records as required by the statute or who disclose criminal records in violation of the statute. Therefore, employers confronted with these circumstances should proceed with caution when making hiring or other employment decisions based on criminal convictions that are eight or more years old.