from the Madison Circuit Court 6, No. 48C06-1408-MI-379 The
Honorable Dennis D. Carroll, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Andrew M. Barker Barker Hancock &
Cohron LLC Noblesville, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana Henry A. Flores, Jr. Deputy Attorney General
comprehensive new expungement statutes allow the expungement
of records from arrests, juvenile delinquency allegations,
criminal charges, and criminal convictions. Here, D.A.
successfully petitioned for the expungement of his criminal
conviction records. He then filed a second petition asking
for the expungement of civil forfeiture records. Because the
trial court correctly held that Indiana's expungement
statutes do not reach civil forfeiture records, we affirm the
denial of D.A.'s second expungement petition.
and Procedural History
D.A.'s drug-related arrest in 2002, police seized $1,
340, including $620 of marked money used in controlled
cocaine buys. The State charged D.A. with two felonies-
possession of cocaine and dealing in marijuana-and he was
convicted on both counts. The State separately filed a civil
complaint for the forfeiture of the unmarked $720, and the
money was ultimately forfeited in a default judgment.
later, in 2014, D.A. petitioned for the expungement of
several criminal conviction records, including records from
his felony possession of cocaine and dealing in marijuana
convictions. The trial court granted the petition, ordering
the expungement of certain records related to D.A.'s
convictions. D.A. then filed a second expungement petition,
this time for the records of the $720 civil forfeiture. The
trial court denied the petition, finding that forfeiture
actions are civil in nature and the expungement statutes
apply to arrests and criminal convictions-but not to civil
appealed that denial, and the Court of Appeals reversed the
trial court in a divided opinion. D.A. v. State, 49
N.E.3d 580 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015). The majority first concluded
that the expungement statutes are ambiguous about what
records may be expunged. Id. at 586-87. It then
interpreted the statutes to reach civil forfeitures when they
are "ancillary to and premised on criminal activity for
which the defendant was convicted." Id. at 587.
Judge Barnes dissented, arguing that applying the expungement
statutes to civil forfeitures adds language to the statutes
that the General Assembly excluded and provides preferential
treatment to those convicted of crimes. Id. at
588-89 (Barnes, J., dissenting).
State sought transfer, which we have granted. Ind. Appellate
Rule 58(A). We now address a single issue of first
impression: whether civil forfeiture records may be expunged
under Indiana's expungement statutes.
review this issue of statutory construction de novo.
Suggs v. State, 51 N.E.3d 1190, 1193 (Ind. 2016).
recently, Indiana's statutory scheme governing
expungement offered little relief to those wanting to
restrict access to their criminal records. Joseph C. Dugan,
Note, I Did My Time: The Transformation of Indiana's
Expungement Law, 90 Ind. L.J. 1321, 1335 (2015). In
fact, Indiana's original expungement law allowed the
expungement of only arrest records-and even then under strict
limits. See id. (citing Ind. Code §
35-38-5-1(a) (2008) (repealed 2014)).
in 2013, the General Assembly enacted new, more
comprehensive, expungement statutes. Ind. Code Ch. 35-38-9.
These statutes, among other changes, extended expungement to
reach misdemeanor and felony conviction records in addition
to arrest records. Ind. Code §§ 35-38-9-1 to -5.
But the overhaul of Indiana expungement law did not stop
there; rather, amendments in both 2014 and 2015 marked a
continuing and significant legislative effort to broaden
notably, the 2014 amendments lowered the petitioner's
burden of proof, allowed expungement of more types of
records, loosened rules for filing multiple petitions, and
relaxed prerequisites to filing a petition. P.L. 181-2014;
see also Taylor v. State, 7 N.E.3d 362, 366 n.3
(Ind.Ct.App. 2014). The 2015 amendments then allowed
expungement of criminal charges and juvenile delinquency