INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has approved two of the most significant changes to Indiana's criminal law in decades.
The first-year Republican signed into law Monday House Enrolled Act 1006, a complete rewrite of the state's criminal code, and House Enrolled Act 1482, creating a process for Hoosiers to expunge their criminal records.
"Indiana should be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime and the best place, once you've done your time, to get a second chance," Pence said.
The new criminal code, which doesn't take effect until July 1, 2014, expands to six the current four levels of felonies, recommends most low-level felons serve their time in county jails or community corrections programs, and requires serious felons serve at least 75 percent of their sentences, up from 50 percent.
The legislation was the product of a five-year study by lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others who looked at every crime on the books, its punishment and how it related to similar crimes.
The new code is the first rebalancing of the state's criminal laws since 1977.
Meanwhile, the expungement law, which was co-sponsored by state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond; and state Sens. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, will give thousands of Hoosiers the chance to wipe their criminal records clean.
The law requires a judge, in most cases, to erase the criminal record of an individual requesting expungement after a minimum of five years good behavior following completion of a criminal sentence.
It also requires the arrest record of any person not convicted of the crime he or she was arrested for be sealed.