In January the Senate approved an “expungement” measure that would allow Alabama residents who have been charged, but never convicted, of a non-violent misdemeanor or felony to have their records hidden from public view. This is a potentially powerful measure that could help thousands of residents when seeking employment and other certifications that require a background check. Up until now, many residents suffered from discrimination after being charged with crimes that didn’t result in a conviction.
Earlier this month, the expungement measure was approved and is now waiting for final approval by Governor Robert Bentley. Though the bill is still under legal review, it is slated to go into effect 90 days after it is signed into law. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to staying abreast of legal issues that impact the rights of our clients and Alabama residents. If you were charged with a non-violent misdemeanor or felony, but never convicted of a crime, you may be eligible for record expungement. Here are some frequently asked questions about the new law:
Am I eligible for record expungement?
The new expungement laws apply to defendants who have been charged with a non-violent felony or misdemeanor AND who have not been convicted. Any offense, including a traffic violation, can be expunged if the charge was dismissed or if you were found not guilty.
Are there charges that cannot be expunged?
Unfortunately, even if you were not convicted of a violent crime, any charges will remain on your record. This means that if you were accused and charged with assault, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, arson, domestic violence, sex crimes, or murder, you are not eligible for expungement.
Do I need a lawyer for expungement?
When pursuing the expungement process, an experienced advocate can ensure that your documents and petition are prepared accurately and in a timely manner. Your petition must be filed in the circuit court where your original charges were filed. While a lawyer is not mandatory, your attorney can ensure that you provide all necessary information, including a sworn statement, a case action summary with a certified copy of arrest, a certified copy of your arrest record, a description of charges, and necessary fees.
Who will be notified of expungement?
An experienced attorney can ensure that your petition is properly filed and distributed to necessary individuals and entities. A copy of your petition must be submitted to the circuit court as well as the DA’s office, relevant law enforcement agencies and the clerk of court. The DA and victims will have 45 days to file a petition to oppose an expungement.
What is the approval process?
If no one objects, the court will review your petition and can make a rule without a hearing. Once your petition is approved, the court will order the expungement of all your records in the custody of the court as well as those records held by law enforcement agencies and other authorities. An experienced advocate can streamline the process and ensure that your records are expunged and certified to the court in a timely manner. Once the records are expunged, you are not required to disclose those records on credit or job applications.