Mindy M. Cline, Appellant-Petitioner,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent.
from the Jay Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No.
38C01-1510-XP-3 The Honorable Brian D. Hutchison, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Chris M. Teagle Muncie, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana Henry A. Flores, Jr. Deputy Attorney General
Mindy Cline ("Cline") appeals the denial of her
petition for expungement, presenting the sole issue of
whether the trial court abused its discretion. We reverse and
and Procedural History
In 2003, Cline was convicted of Forgery. In 2004, she was
convicted of Dealing in Methamphetamine. On October 16, 2015,
Cline filed a petition seeking expungement of the records of
these convictions. The State did not oppose the petition.
The trial court conducted a hearing on November 12, 2015, at
which Cline testified and the State presented no evidence. At
the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court took the
matter under advisement, stating:
Well, Ms. Cline, obviously I remember you. I don't have
any fond memories of you (inaudible) your criminal behavior.
That doesn't mean - that doesn't mean that you should
necessarily be deprived of this opportunity but it
doesn't mean I'm not going to do this by (inaudible).
I'm going to think about it for a while. I'm
concerned by the - the offenses you committed. Number one,
Forgery, a crime of dishonesty. Number two, dealing
methamphetamine. Putting it bluntly, it's a pain in my
ass. I have [to] deal with meth and heroin every damn day
here and I've - I've had a belly full. I'm not
doing favors for people that are causing these problems in
Jay County. I'm also concerned by the fact that
you've only been out of supervision for five years. And I
could turn that around and I could say hey, way to go,
you've been out five years and you haven't -
haven't messed up. That's what I'm going to think
about a little bit. I will rule on it within thirty days.
12.) On November 13, 2015, the trial court denied the
petition for expungement, "based largely on the nature
of the convictions, the severity of the offenses, and the
relatively short duration since release from probation/parole
on the most recent convictions (approx. 5 years)." (App.
at 5.) Cline now appeals.
Indiana Code Section 35-38-9-4 permits persons convicted of
certain crimes to have their conviction records expunged.
Through the expungement statutes, the "legislature
intended to give individuals who have been convicted of
certain crimes a second chance" by providing an
opportunity for relief from the stigma associated with their
criminal convictions. Taylor v. State, 7 N.E.3d 362,
367 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014). The expungement statutes are
inherently remedial and, as such, should be liberally
construed to advance the remedy for which they were enacted.
Brown v. State, 947 N.E.2d 486, 490 (Ind.Ct.App.
2011), trans. denied.
Under Chapter 35-38-9, expungement is not available to sex or
violent offenders or persons convicted of official
misconduct, homicide offenses, human and sexual trafficking
offenses, or sex crimes. See I.C. §
35-38-9-3(b); I.C. § 35-38-9-4(b); I.C. §
35-38-9-5(b). For qualifying offenses, the requirements for
expungement generally depend on the level of offense of which
the person was convicted. Depending on the offense level,
expungement may be either mandatory or discretionary. Key
v. State, 48 N.E.3d 333, 336 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015).
Cline sought relief pursuant to Indiana Code Section
35-3-9-4, applicable to qualified felonies other than Class D
or Level 6 felonies. Subsection (e) of that statute provides
that the trial court may order conviction records
expunged if the court finds by a preponderance of the
evidence that: (1) the requisite period has elapsed (eight
years from the date of conviction or three years from the
completion of the sentence, or as shortened by prosecutorial
agreement); (2) no charges are pending against the person;
(3) applicable fines, costs, and restitution have been ...