A criminal record can foreclose job opportunities and make it more difficult for you to get an education. Once you have been convicted of a crime, the record can follow you for the rest of your life and can be seen by anyone who does a background check. The only way to avoid having your criminal record show up when you are checked out is to have your record sealed or expunged.
Expungement was traditionally very difficult in Alabama, but a new law has now gone into effect. Bill AL SB108 was passed and the new rules took effect in mid-July of 2014. Those who may now be eligible to have their records cleared should consult with an expungement lawyer in Alabama as soon as possible to get the process started.
Alabama Relaxes Rules on Expunging Criminal Records
When your record is expunged, information about a past arrest and/or conviction from a crime is removed from your record and no longer seen when a background check is conducted.
Expungement differs from sealing records, which simply prevents people from seeing your criminal history. While your record of arrests and conviction can still be used for certain limited purposes, such as by law enforcement and by prosecutors, for the most part expungement erases the information about your past dealings with the criminal justice system.
The situations in which your record could be expunged were previously very limited. Now, for the first time ever in Alabama, the new law will allow people who have been charged with a non-violent misdemeanor, non-violent felony or traffic violation to petition the court and expunge their record. Individuals will need to meet certain criteria in order to have their record expunged. For example:
- The previous criminal charge must have either resulted in a not guilty verdict.
- The previous charge must have been dismissed with prejudice.
- The previous charge must have been no-billed by a grand jury.
If you wish to take advantage of the new expungement rules and you qualify to do so, you will need to file a petition in the Circuit Court where the offense offered. The petition is called Petition for Expungement of Records and you can obtain it from the website of the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts. You will also need to pay a $300 administrative fee and will need to include a sworn statement attesting you meet the criteria for expungement. Other required paperwork includes a certified copy of arrest and disposition or a case action summary; and/or a certified copy of your arrest recorded provided by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. Consulting an experienced expungement attorney in Alabama is the best course of action.
Once your paperwork is submitted, the District Attorney's Office as well as any victims affected by your alleged criminal behavior will have 45 days to oppose the expungement.
If the expungement is approved and the court orders your records expunged, the order will apply to both records held by law enforcement agencies as well as those in the custody of the courts.
Contact Barclay Law at 866-584-1023 or visit http://www.jmbarclaylaw.com to schedule a consultation with a expungement lawyer in Alabama. Serving South Side, Titusville, Red Mountain, Woodlawn, Ensley and surrounding areas.