Regret is a tough emotion to tackle. We go over the mistakes we made in the past over and over again, and we ask ourselves why we didn’t keep our mouths shut, or say no to that last drink, or stay away from those people.
We’ve all made mistakes. Usually we deal with the regret, forgive ourselves and move on.
Some of us don’t have that option. Sometimes the pain of regret can’t heal, because we are constantly reminded of our mistakes and asked to pay for them. For the rest of our lives, in some cases.
Kristen Brasher thought she would never escape the consequences of her mistake. In 2008, at 19 years old, the Seymour native pleaded guilty to “attempted possession of a controlled substance.”
The public doesn’t know all the details, but we can guess. Hers is likely a familiar story of teenage anger or escape or a search for belonging … whatever the cause, it led her to drugs. She got caught trying to buy what she thought she needed at the time.
On the advice of her attorney, she accepted the consequence. She thought all she faced was a year of probation, the completion of a drug and alcohol program and community service.
What she couldn’t possibly understand until experiencing it was how serving her sentence would not be the end of her regret. That wound would be reopened, again and again.
For five years, every time Kristen interviewed for job – Seattle, Kansas City, it didn’t matter where – her criminal record haunted her. She had to answer for getting into that “wrong place, wrong time kind of thing” everywhere she went, knowing it would cause any potential employer to think twice.
One even outright told her they couldn’t hire her because not enough time had passed.
Company policy. Sorry.
Then came Indiana’s Second Chance Act of 2013, dramatically expanding the rights of people like Kristen to have their criminal record “expunged,” or erased in the eyes of the law.
On September 15th, 2013, Kristen became the first person to file for expungement of her record in Jackson County. With the help of her attorney, on March 14th, 2014, the crime was erased. She was finally free of it.
Kristen used her new clean-record status to become a CASA (court-appointed special advocate), a volunteer supporting and speaking for foster kids in court proceedings. She also got a job at a technology company in Columbus.
“It doesn’t have to hinder you from getting employment,” Kristen said. “You don’t have to have your record following you the rest of your life.”
What is expungement?
Expungement is the most thorough way of erasing your criminal past. While certain folks, such as law enforcement or immigration officials, will still be able to view your records by request, potential employers will not.
How do I get my criminal record expunged?
Really, the first thing you should ask is, “Am I eligible to have my record expunged?” If you murdered someone or committed a sex crime, for a couple of examples, we need to have a different discussion. But assuming you are eligible, like Kristen was, there’s a pretty complicated process to go through to get you to the Promised Land.
Over the next few months we’ll be exploring the ins and outs of expungement in Indiana in this blog, but please don’t consider anything you read here as comprehensive legal advice. Every case is unique. You’re going to need a good attorney to make sure you get the result you want.
Why Bruce Munson?
I’ve been doing this for over a quarter century. I’ve seen the law come down too hard, too often, and I’ve seen lives destroyed by past mistakes. Indiana’s Second Chance Law has opened the door to a new life for people like you who haven’t been able to move on. I’m focusing on this right now because I want to help as many people as possible take advantage of this opportunity.
If experience, skill and heart aren’t good enough reasons to hire me, I don’t know what is. Come back to this blog to learn more about expungement as we go, or just contact me today to discuss your situation.
You won’t regret it.