Expungements in Alabama
Ferguson & Ferguson
Attorneys at Law
April 26th, 2021
New Expungement Law 2021 in Alabama
The Alabama legislature and Governor Ivey have finally passed an expungement bill that will allow certain persons convicted of non-violent crimes to have their records wiped clean. This law, which we have pushed for for years will soon allow people with long-ago convictions for certain low-level crimes to apply to have their records wiped clean. The Alabama Legislature approved an expanded expungement bill that was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey this week. The bill is called the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment and Eliminate Recidivism Act – or the REDEEMER Act. It would allow people with certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to apply to have their records expunged if they have met certain conditions. It will help people who made a mistake in their past move forward by removing their convictions from public records. Thereby making them much more employable. It is similar to the laws in other states that wipe away misdemeanor convictions after a person serves their time or probation. Its goal is to help people who made mistakes in the past to put it behind them. Thereby making them more employable and capable of taking care of themselves, their families and contribute to to society.
Alabama current expungement laws only allow people to apply for expungement if the charges are dismissed, your found not guilty or you have finished some type of diversion program. The new law will allow people with convictions for nonviolent misdemeanors, municipal ordinances and minor traffic offenses to apply to have their records expunged provided they meet certain conditions. The conditions include having paid all court costs and fines, completed probation and all other requirements in their case. Violent crimes, sex offenses and major traffic convictions would not be eligible for expungement. The big surprise to the law is this, people who were convicted of felonies but later pardoned could also apply to have the conviction expunged. This is a dramatic shift from the previous expungement laws in this state. We are offering the only LOWEST FEE GUARANTEE in the State of Alabama. Call 24/7 to find out just how low our attorney’s fee can be for an expungement in the State of Alabama. We are preparing petitions now. Call now 256-534-3435 or 256-350-7200.
Previous Expungement Laws Still Exist
Were you charged with a criminal offense in Alabama? Were your charges dismissed, nolle prossed or were you found not guilty? Did you complete a pre-trial diversion program? If yes, you may be eligible to have your charges expunged. Expungement means to purge or remove any information of past criminal charges from law enforcement records or any other official database that may be in possession of the information. If you are considering an expungement, you need to contact an Alabama expungement attorney as soon as possible to see if you qualify to have your charges expunged.
What are the Benefits of Having my Record Expunged?
People are often surprised to find out that even though their case was nol prossed, dismissed or they were found not guilty of the offenses, the arrest will show up on a background check and impact your future. When a prospective employer sees that you were charged with crime, they often throw your application in the garbage or don’t even consider hiring you. The same can be said if you’re applying for a rental property, the rental owner may look into the likes of AAOA to conduct a tenant check, if it comes back unclean, your tenant application may be tossed aside. It is not unusual for an employer to terminate your employment if they find you have a criminal record. Many companies have policies in place that prevent them from hiring you at all. Many companies in Huntsville who are contracting with the federal government can’t even consider hiring you. In this economy you need every advantage you can get, and you do not need a arrest holding you back from a good job. You do not want neighbors, employers, parents of your children’s friends, or a military recruiter having access to your criminal record. Even though you made mistakes being foolish or perhaps just at the wrong place at the wrong time, we can fix your record. Take the necessary steps now to get your criminal record expunged.
Can my Charges be Expunged Automatically by the Courts?
There is no procedure in Alabama to automatically expunge your record, short of hiring an attorney to file a petition for expungement on your behalf. There are no circumstances where a judge or prosecutor can expunge your case automatically in Alabama.
Am I Eligible for Expungement in Alabama?
Charges that qualify for expungement includes the following:
A non-felony charge (a misdemeanor criminal offense, a violation, a traffic violation OR a municipal ordinance violation) may be expunged if one of the following criteria are met:
- the charge was dismissed with prejudice
- the charge was no billed by a grand jury
- the defendant was found not guilty of the charge
- the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than two years ago, has not been refiled, and the defendant has not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor crime, any violation, or any traffic violation, excluding minor traffic violations, during the previous two years
A non-violent felony charge may be expunged if:
- if the charge was dismissed with prejudice
- the charge was no billed by a grand jury
- the defendant was found not guilty of the charge
- the charge was dismissed after successful completion of a drug court program, mental health court program, diversion program, veteran’s court, or any court-approved deferred prosecution program AND more than one year has passed from the successful completion of the program
- if the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than five years ago, was not refiled, and the petitioner has not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor crime, any violation, or any traffic violation, excluding minor traffic violations, during the previous five years
- ninety days have passed from the date of dismissal with prejudice, no-bill, acquittal, or nolle prosequi and the charge has not been refiled
How do I File for an Expungement?
There are numerous documents that must be produced, requested or filed to do an expungement, including the following:
- Envelope made out to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency – Records & Identification Division, P.O. Box 1511, Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1511
- Cover letter explaining what you are sending them
- Copy of Application to Review Alabama Criminal History Record Information(2 witnesses or notarized)
- If you have an attorney send in a Authorization to Release Criminal History
Record Information and Release of Liability (this allows them to send it to your attorney)
- $25.00 money order or cashiers check made out to ALEA Records and Identification Division(may cost to get)
- Copy of your fingerprints taken by an authorized law enforcement agency($5-$10.00 at most sheriff/police departments).
- Copy of photo identification:(A valid unexpired United States state-issued photo driver license or photo ID (non-driver) card; or
a valid unexpired United States Active Duty, Retiree or Reservist military ID card (DD Form 2 or 2A); or a valid unexpired United States Military Dependent id badge (for spouse or children of Active Duty Military personnel); or a valid unexpired United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Documentation, which may include either: or a Certificate of Naturalization N-550, N-570, N-578; or Certificate of Citizenship N-560, N-561, N-645: or a valid unexpired United States Passport; or a valid unexpired Foreign Passport which meets the following requirements: or a foreign passport must contain a Valid United States Visa or I-94 to be used as a primary proof of identification; or a foreign passport, not issued in English, must be translated and accompanied by a Certificate of Accurate Translation. Passports are not acceptable if un-translated into English and/or expired.(make sure it is readable)
After you receive your criminal history information documents, you must file in the Circuit Court of the county in which you were previously charged with the offense. You must file the following:
- Prepare Petition For Expungement of Records. You must serve on page 4 of the Petition everyone involved in your case so that all records are expunged) Serve the jail where incarcerated, sheriff/police chief/state trooper, district attorney, court clerk of city if a city charge, clerk of circuit court when filed
- Do a cover or information sheet to file with Petition.(Name, address, phone #, email address, date of birth, social security #) Some counties do not require this form
- With your Petition you must file either a certified record of arrest from the appropriate agency for the court record you seek to have expunged or a certified record of disposition, or a certified record of the case action summary from the appropriate court for the court record I seek to have expunged; and a certified official criminal record obtained from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA)(Case action summaries are the easiest to get from the court where you were concluded your case, and usually cost $5-$10.00) If you appealed your case from municipal court to circuit court, go to circuit court to get disposition.
- When you file your Petition, you need a copy for each person you are serving(ex. sheriff, DA etc.) and a copy for yourself.
- Take all of your copies with attachments and a $300.00 check to the circuit clerk and file the Petition. Stamp all copies and serve each person.(I leave check blank until I get to the clerk’s office in case that county has additional charges)
How Long Until my Case is Expunged?
Generally, there is not a hearing in an expungement unless the district attorney or the arresting agency objects to your expungement. I have yet to have them object in a case. While many prosecutors will not oppose expungement under the right circumstances, they each have their own requirements to satisfy, and the courts may not sign the expungement order until the prosecutor’s office is in agreement. The district attorney often will file a motion stating that they have no objection to the expungement. Understand every district attorney does it their own way. Further, every judge and county does it their own way. In some counties one judge handles all expungements. In other counties it just depends on who gets the case. In some counties it is 45 days from the day you filed it to get an order. In other counties in Alabama, it may seem like it takes forever. Case loads vary county to county and judges in one county may do it differently than another judge in the same county. Some judges require you to do an order or motion to seal, while other judges do them themselves. Lastly, you should understand that evidence of your criminal arrest and charges are not removed on the date that the judge signs the order granting expungement. The order is forwarded by the clerk of courts to the appropriate parties including local police, local jails, the District Attorney’s Office and various agencies who must cull and remove any history of the record. It could take more than six months from the date on which the expungement order is signed for all records of your arrest to be removed.
What Happens if Someone Objects to my Expungement?
If someone objects, a court hearing will be scheduled on your petition to determine if expungement is appropriate. Witnesses will be called and the judge will determine if expungement is appropriate.
Why Hire an Attorney for an Expungement?
If your case is nol prossed by the prosecution, dismissed by the court or you are found not guilty after trial, do not assume that someone will not object to your expungement or that the charges will automatically be removed from your record. The arrest and the charges will remain on your record and be accessible by current or prospective employers, the military and the public, unless a petition is filed and an order is signed granting expungement. If you are considering an expungement, it is important that you consult with an experienced expungement attorney, who is familiar with the local practice, so that the petition can be filed correctly the first time and there will be no delays in having the records deleted. If you are considering filing for an expungement, call now for your no obligation, FREE CONSULTATION with one of our attorneys. We also offer the only Lowest Fee Guarantee in Alabama. Call now. Call 256-534-3435 or 256-350-7200. Let us wipe the slate clean.