In mid-July, new expungement rules in Alabama took effect that make it possible for more people to have their records cleared after an arrest. This is extremely important because expungement has many benefits for future opportunities. If you believe you may be eligible to have your arrest record expunged under the new Alabama law, you should consult with an expungement lawyer as soon as possible for assistance.
The Importance of Expungement
The expungement law allows people who were charged but never convicted of a non-violent felony or misdemeanor the chance to have the record erased, or deemed to have never occurred. The expungement law, however, does not allow people to erase convictions.
A recent opinion piece on Alabama.com discussed the link between having an arrest record and living in poverty. One major problem is that an arrest leading to a conviction can make a person ineligible for college loans, food stamps and certain types of housing options.
As a result, it is very difficult for someone who has been convicted of a crime to get the help he may need in the future. This can increase the risk of someone committing a crime again, since the inability to get food or housing can quickly lead to desperation. The opinion article suggests that some type of earned expungement should be put into place to make it possible for someone who has committed a crime a long time ago to clear his record and regain his or her rights.
A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Alabama Political Science Association also looked at the impact of making it possible for people to expunge their records. The paper examined whether the current system of limited expungements is setting people up for failure because it can be very difficult for someone to get a job when he is forced to report his criminal record for the rest of his life. This, in turn, also can result in more people committing crimes again because their opportunities for gainful employment are foreclosed by their criminal history.
According to the report, 80 percent of mid-sized and large companies do some kind of background check on employees before hiring. Expungement could allow someone to clear his record so he doesn't lose opportunities because of the background check. However, just four of the 10 states in the country with the highest rates of unemployment allow expungement for misdemeanors and just three of ten states with the lowest unemployment rates allow expungement for misdemeanors.
Misdemeanor offenders rarely go to jail for their crimes and as many as 95 percent enter plea agreements. The result is that people who committed minor crimes end up being unable to erase this criminal record and having their employment opportunities severely limited.
It comes as no surprise, then, that past research and literature on expungement shows there is a "pretty strong correlation with high crime rates and strict expungement policy."
In Alabama, expungement opportunities still remain somewhat limited despite the new law that expanded the opportunity to have information about past arrests removed from your record. There are many reasons why allowing expungement in more cases would make sense. Still, people who now have the chance to have their records expunged should do everything possible to move forward with the process so they can regain their opportunities. An attorney can provide assistance with the process to help increase the chances of successfully clearing your past record.
Contact Barclay Law at 866-584-1023 to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham. Serving South Side, Titusville, Red Mountain, Woodlawn, Ensley and surrounding areas.