New expungement legislation passed by the Alabama legislature was intended to give individuals charged but not convicted of a crime a second chance.
An increasing number of former defendants are seeking assistance from Alabama defense attorneys to help them get their record wiped clean. The elimination of a record can be critical when applying to schools or seeking employment. A criminal record can be an insurmountable roadblock when seeking some forms of employment. For years, Alabama was one of a handful of states that didn’t give an expungement option for those arrested but never convicted. Despite the intention of the new expungement law, it hasn’t been as easy as many citizens of Alabama hoped.
According to a recent report, the law is flawed, costing more than anticipated and taking longer than expected. The new law allows individuals to see their misdemeanor arrest and some non-violent criminal charges stricken from the record.
The law applies to those who were arrested and charged, but never convicted of a crime. There are some limitations—individuals who are applying for expungement must disclose their other arrest records and involvement in any other criminal investigations. Those who were charged with violent felonies, including domestic violence, cannot have their record expunged.
Advocates of the new law laud its ability to give young offenders a fresh start. It also prevents background checks from blocking potential employees who were never convicted of a crime.
However, one of the frequently-cited flaws is that it costs applicants $300 per charge. Those who are seeking expungement may not expect such a significant cost. Additionally, it’s been reported those who have followed procedure and applied have had to wait longer than they expected to get results. Even lawyers offering help with expungements acknowledge the process takes a significant amount of legwork. Applicants are required to obtain certified records of their arrest, collect documentation from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and get updated information from local agencies.
Expungements are often pursued as an option for those who have been arrested and charged with DUI, but not convicted. The process is important because it prevents applicants from being stigmatized for a crime never actually proven in court. While some people may not be aware of their new rights under the law, others may find the fees and time expenses overwhelming. However, given the trade-offs, expunging one’s record tends to be worth it.
If you were charged with an Alabama crime but not convicted, you may be able to get your record expunged. Our Birmingham expungement attorneys are experienced with handling expungement cases under Alabama law, and can help you protect your rights.
While many advocates are seeking reform to streamline the process, former defendants should consult with an experienced advocate who can help investigate their case, collect relevant documentation and pursue an effective expungement. While the process may involve jumping through some hoops, the results are lasting and can secure expungement so you can pursue employment and other opportunities without the stigma of a criminal record.