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Why should I get an expungement? One Study Says It Increases Income by $6,190

If you have a criminal history, particularly if that conviction is old, you may likely wonder whether it is worth your while to expunge that conviction.  A Stanford University study sought to answer that question and did a cost—benefit analysis focused on determining what are quantitative benefits and the quantitative costs of obtaining an expungement of a conviction.  https://publicpolicy.stanford.edu/publications/cost-benefit-analysis-criminal-record-expungement-santa-clara-county.   Generally and in total, that study determined that the estimated benefits of an expungement outweigh the estimated costs by $5,760. 

The study also stated that an individual obtaining an expungement increased income by $6,190 after that expungement was obtained.    The increase in income is likely attributable to the fact that having one’s record expunged significantly increases the chances of being hired because it prevents a potential employer from seeing the criminal record of an individual seeking or changing jobs.  The stigma or negative stereotype associated with a criminal history can have a dramatic effect on potential employers.  Consequently, obtaining an expungment can not only improve an individual’s economic productivity, but also increases tax revenues for the government in addition to other quantifiable and nonquantifiable benefits.   

Why is an expungement so important?  According to the Stanford study, more than 60% of employers claimed that they would not knowingly hire an individual who had a criminal record.  In fact, if you obtain an expungement in Indiana, one of the expungement statutes provides a remedy if you are discriminated against because of that expunged conviction.  Specifically, Indiana Code 35-38-9-10(f) states that, “[a]ny person that discriminates against a person as described in subsection (b) commits a Class C infraction and may be held in contempt by the court issuing the order of expungement or by any other court of general jurisdiction.”  That is, Indiana law expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who have obtained expungements. 

If you are interested in an expungement, one of the first steps is to obtain a criminal history.  In Indiana, the Indiana State Police (“ISP”) is responsible for maintaining a central repository that houses most criminal history data for arrests and convictions that occur within the State.  Individuals can obtain a limited criminal history through the Indiana State Police website.  ISP will search the repository and provide you with information about your criminal history including the year and the county the conviction is out of.    

The Indiana State Police provides that information in the form of a “Limited Criminal History Report” which is available for purchase at its branches and online.  Those reports are used frequently by employers or background check companies to find a person’s criminal history.  However, those reports include only information about arrests, criminal charges, and outcomes of a case for those matters that the Indiana State Police has received information for.  As a result, employers and background check companies will often look other places for criminal history information in addition to that report.  Some places other places often utilized include: free online databases, paid online databases, reports maintained by the arresting agencies, which are available as public records, and information maintained by the Indiana Department of Correction.  As a result, a full criminal history will often include information obtained through a number of different providers. 

Putting together a full criminal history is particularly important for individuals considering expungement.  Indiana law currently provides for an individual to expunge their convictions one time in their life.  As a result, an individual should not only look to ISP’s limited criminal history, but should also look to other sources to ensure that have all pertinent information.  This is important because there are currently few exceptions to the “one time” requirement for the expungement of conviction records in Indiana.

In summary, the benefits to seeking and obtaining an expungement are real and have been proven by one study to increase income by over $6,000.  The potential economic benefits and the peace of mind of putting your past behind you are clear and direct benefits that no doubt outweigh the costs associated obtaining an expungement of your conviction or convictions.    

If you do not want to take a chance in potentially harming your own expungement, contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today.  We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized history.  Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.