A new law has taken effect in Alabama permitting those who have been living under the cloud of a prior criminal arrest to finally be freed of those burdens.
For the first time ever in this state, those previously charged with non-violent felonies and non-violent misdemeanors or traffic violations will be allowed to petition the court for a clean slate, assuming they meet certain criteria. Our Birmingham expungement lawyersare available to help clients expunge their records.
The bill, AL SB 108, formally went into effect July 6. The terms and conditions under which individuals can apply are extensive. Basically, though, here’s what the law says:
If you were arrested for non-violent felony charges, non-violent misdemeanor charges or traffic infractions, you can petition the court to have your record expunged if the case resulted in a Grand Jury no-bill, a dismissal of the charge with prejudice, a finding of not guilty or you completed a mandated diversion program a full year ago or more. Additionally, individuals whose charges were dismissed without prejudice can apply to have the arrest record expunged, so long as the case hasn’t been refiled and there have been no other convictions for felonies, misdemeanors or traffic violations in the interim.
The benefits to having a record expunged are numerous. First, there is the benefit to your employment situation. The new law allows job applicants with expunged records to legally answer “no” in response to employment application questions concerning arrests.
Additionally, persons wishing to get a loan for a car or a house or education may be unable to do so with a prior criminal record, which is readily accessible to lenders. It’s also important for anyone seeking to obtain custody of a child or adopt. Family courts will take your prior criminal record into close consideration. However, if the record is expunged under the terms of this law, it won’t be a factor in the case.
News reports indicates thousands of people in Alabama are lining up for this opportunity. However, not all are securing legal guidance before doing so. This is a mistake. While some people are seeking to avoid the cost of an attorney when they are already required to pay a $300 administrative fee, the fact is that an arrest record is a major impediment when it comes to the job market. Investing in an attorney is well worth it, particularly when you consider the court may not entertain numerous requests from the same individual over the same case. If your request is denied, you may not get another chance.
Assuming a client meets the criteria – which our Alabama expungement attorneys can help determine before beginning the application process – we will guide the petition through the court. This includes a sworn statement attesting to meeting the requirements, and an indication of whether he or she has previously applied for expungement. The application is going to include a record of arrest and the outcome, whether in a disposition or action summary. There is also the certified record from the state’s Criminal Justice Information Center.
Once the petition is filed, the state will have 45 days to make a decision. If for some reason the request is rejected, our attorneys can help you consider whether to file an appeal.
To learn more about Alabama’s new expungement law and how we can help you obtain a fresh start, call our offices today.