News & Resources

Criminal records legislation limits background checks for businesses

Jun 10, 2013 Quinn Thomas

A recently approved bill in Indiana has changed the way the state addresses criminal history records. Jackson Lewis, an employment law firm, reported that Governor Mike Pence signed a bill into law that enables residents arrested or convicted of misdemeanors and class D felonies to expunge their criminal records after a given period.

According to the source, individuals with misdemeanors will be able to expunge records after five years if they have not committed another crime during that period. For class D felons, records can be wiped after eight years. Pending or existing driver's license suspensions will bar citizens from applying for expunged records. Also, convictions relating to sexual or violent crimes may not be eliminated.

"With thirty-three other states having an expungement policy in place, I am glad to see Indiana join the rest of the nation in holding people accountable while allowing forgiveness and second chances to occur," said State Representative Jud McMillin, lead author of the legislation.

Part of the bill also prohibits employers from factoring in expunged criminal records when making hiring decisions. Business owners can still ask applicants about their arrest histories. However, they can not request information about records that have been erased. Jackson Lewis states that any violation of this legislation by an employer would be Class C infraction with contempt of court penalties possibly applying to incompliant parties.

Background screening of criminal records and consumer credit reports can be a useful tool for many businesses, but some state and federal regulations can make it a difficult practice for companies to participate in. However, many professional enterprises offer screening services that are provided by a team of trained workers that are knowledgeable in background check legislation. Companies looking to conduct pre-employment checks should consider partnering with these enterprises.