What is Expungement?
If you live in Alabama and have less than a perfect record, you might be able to get your record expunged under the direction of a new state law. The Alabama Expungement Law was finalized in 2014 and gives certain rights back to those accused of crimes in Alabama. Here is what you need to know about expungement and the process required to get your record cleared.
What is “expungement” in Alabama?
Expungement is the legal process through which someone accused of certain crimes in the state of Alabama can have their record erased or destroyed. Having any sort of any arrest record can impact a person’s opportunities for education, employment, housing, licenses, and loans. Your past arrest record is now more accessible than ever, so if there is something that you can do to “erase” an eligible record, you should pursue the remedies available to you under Alabama law.
First, expungement isn’t available if you were convicted of a crime. Alabama only grants expungements for non-convictions of certain charges. A non-conviction means that your case was either dismissed, dismissed after the completion of drug court or some other pre-trial program, or you were found “not guilty” after a trial.
The Types of Alabama Arrests That Can be Expunged
Not all arrests are eligible for expungement in Alabama, even if you escaped a conviction. Only arrest and court records for misdemeanors, traffic violations, municipal violations, and non-violent felonies can be expunged in Alabama. Some examples of charges that are eligible for expungement include:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Possession of Marijuana 1st or 2nd Degree
- Domestic Violence, 3rd Degree Misdemeanor
There are some waiting period requirements to file for an expungement in Alabama. For example, if your case was a for a non-violent felony that was dismissed without prejudice, you may file for an expungement if it has been at least five (5) years and you haven’t been convicted of any other crime.
If your arrest was for a misdemeanor that was dismissed without prejudice, you can file for an expungement if it has been at least two (2) years and you have been convicted of any other crime, excluding minor traffic violations.
If your arrest was a non-violent felony and it was dismissed with prejudice, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period before you can file a Petition for Expungement.
How Petitions For Expungement in Alabama Are Handled
Alabama law requires that you file your request for an expungement with the Circuit Court in the county where the original arrest took place. When you file your petition, the Circuit Court will consider all the available information and then decide whether to grant your request. Some of the factors that the court will consider include:
- The nature and seriousness of the original crime
- The circumstances surrounding the crime
- The date of the crime
- Your age when the crime was committed
- Whether this was an isolated matter or a repeat offense
- Available probation reports and recommendations
- Whether the charges were dropped due to a plea agreement
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant
How an Attorney Can Help You Get an Alabama Expungement
Unfortunately, when the legislature drafted the law allowing citizens to get their records expunged, they didn’t make the procedure a simple one. There are several roadblocks in the expungement process that can cause an application to be delayed or simply denied. You must pay a fee when you file for expungement, and any mistakes will send you back to the beginning, with a request to pay the filing fee once again. In some cases, an objection to your expungement request will mean that you’ll have to attend a court hearing. Having competent legal representation on your side throughout this process can ensure that your Alabama expungement request is handled properly and efficiently.
Our experienced and knowledgeable Mobile criminal defense attorney understands the expungement process and is intimately familiar with the municipal, state, and federal courts in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Contact the Law Office of Ginger Poynter LLC today at (251) 445-8313 or online to discuss your expungement options.