Ok, I'll actually go over both options starting with 'worst case scenario' (a conviction). One provides for expungement and the other provides for sealing. Expungement is the better of the two, but sealing may work just as fine for your daughter (since she is trying to get a private sector job).
Expungement is the actual destruction of the arrest records and criminal file. It is as if the case never happened.
Sealing is the way a Court blocks the general public from viewing the arrest record and case information. It is still view able by law enforcement and prosecutors, but the general public (private companies) cannot see the information.
1) If your daughter was convicted (Worst Case Scenario)
If your daughter was convicted, then she still may be able to seal the arrest and criminal convictions making it non-viewable to the general public. A person may file a Petition to Seal in the court that heard the original criminal case. They must wait at least 5 years after the conviction before they are allowed to file the petition. However, in Indiana, a person may file a petition to expunge or seal only once in their lifetime. So, for example, if your daughter was to be arrested or convicted of a crime after obtaining a Seal Order, she will not be able to remove that later arrest/conviction from the records.
If the court orders the conviction records for a misdemeanor expunged, the court’s order will
1. prohibit the department of correction, the bureau of motor vehicles, each law enforcement agency and any other person who incarcerated/provided treatment/services to the petitioner under a court order from releasing the records relating to the petitioner’s conviction without a court order.
2. order the state police department to seal the petitioner’s expunged conviction records contained in the central repository for criminal history information.
3. notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court to seal any records in the Clerk’s possession that relate to the conviction.
4. order the records of the sentencing court, a juvenile court, the Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court to be permanently sealed. The court records will be sealed and therefore excluded from public access as provided in
5. request the Indiana Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Indiana to redact the name of the petitioner named as an appellant or appellee in any opinion or memorandum decision and provide a redacted copy to any publisher or organization that publishes this information however the Indiana Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are not required to destroy of any existing copy of an opinion or memorandum decision that includes the petitioner's name.
6. order that the petitioner’s civil rights be restored including the right to vote, to hold public office and to serve as a juror
7. it becomes unlawful discrimination for any person to suspend, expel,refuse to employ, refuse to admit, refuse to grant/renew a license or permit needed to engage in any activity, occupation or profession, or otherwise discriminate against any person because of a conviction or arrest record that has been expunged or sealed.
2) Your Daughter's Case was Dismissed (Best Case Scenario
If your daughter's case was dismissed, then she should qualify for expungement (which is the physical destruction of any records associated with the arrest). Your daughter must wait at least one year after the date of arrest. There is no number limit on how many times you may file for an expungement that resulted in a dismissal. Your daughter would have to file a Petition to Expunge in the same court that heard her theft case.
The same benefits as discussed above with sealing would apply here. The difference is that she can answer "no" to any job application that asks "have you ever been arrested or charged with an offense?" For sealed offenses, if an employer asks "have you ever been arrested or charged with an offense, including sealed offenses?" your daughter would have to answer yes. Only certain employers may ask this question and it is very, very rare. Any background search, even if done by police, would not reveal the arrest and criminal case for the offense.
This is the basic outline of sealing and expunging, as applied to your daughter, in Indiana.
Please let me know if you have any follow up questions based on what I have provided thus far.