Alabama Expungement Attorneys
Having a criminal record can create many problems for a person who wants to find a place to live, apply for a job, get a loan, or earn a license to work in a particular profession. When you are a law-abiding citizen, losing out on opportunities that are afforded to everyone else can seem particularly unfair. The good news is that, depending on the particulars of your case, you may be able to clean up your Alabama criminal record through a process called “expungement.”
What is Expungement?
Expungement refers to the process of erasing, destroying, or sealing arrest records. The general idea is that, once a record is expunged, the details don’t have to be disclosed, including to potential employers or landlords. Nearly every state has some provision for expungement and Alabama was recently added to this list.
How Expungement Can Impact Your Life
We live in an information age and, unfortunately, the internet has made many of us open books whether we want to be or not. Your ability to get into the college of your choice and pursue a particular career path could be impacted by a single mistake in your past. An arrest for something such as shoplifting, DUI, or even reckless driving could affect your chances of being approved for a rental apartment, getting a mortgage loan approved, and passing a background check for employment.
When your Alabama case is expunged, all the data related to your arrest and charges is included. This means that your arrest report, booking photographs, and references in the state’s Judicial Information System or other government indexes for public searches are erased. All personal data such as your name, social security number, address, and date of birth are also expunged.
Assuming you’ve successfully had your Alabama records expunged, you will be able to fill out employment and credit applications in the future without having to disclose a mistake from your past. In most cases, those expunged records will not show up on pre-employment background checks.
Is Your Record Eligible For Expungement in Alabama?
According to Alabama’s expungement law, cases that are eligible for this service include traffic offenses, misdemeanors, non-violent felonies, and violations. Cases that are not eligible for expungement include violent felonies such as robbery, burglary, assault, and murder.
If you were found not guilty of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony or had your case dismissed, you may be eligible for expungement. You may also be eligible if your case was no-billed by a grand jury.
Timelines For Expungement in Alabama
Some expungements are available to you immediately while others require that you wait before filing your request. If your non-violent felony or misdemeanor case reached a not guilty verdict or was dismissed with prejudice, you can request an expungement immediately. If your case was a misdemeanor that was dismissed without prejudice, you need to wait two years before filing and not get arrested for any other crimes in the meantime.
For non-violent felony cases that are dismissed without prejudice, you will have to wait five years before filing for an expungement. If your case received a dismissal through a diversion program or drug court or you received deferred prosecution, you must complete all programs and then wait one year prior to filing a request for expungement.
How to Apply For An Alabama Expungement
The state of Alabama has made the expungement process forms publicly available. Unfortunately, the entire process can be complicated and riddled with red tape. If you meet the criteria, you are required to send in the application materials with supporting documentation that includes a case action summary, record of arrest, disposition, and certified criminal record. Because this process is so technical, we recommend that you enlist the services of an experienced and qualified Alabama expungement attorney.
Expungement in Alabama is a civil matter that is handled by the Circuit Court. There is generally not a court hearing associated with this process. The only exception is if the prosecuting attorney or victim object to the expungement. In most cases, the entire expungement process takes anywhere from 60-120 days depending on the amount of documentation required and any objections from the court.
A Few Practical Limitations on Expungement
While there is tremendous value in having your records expunged if you are eligible, the truth is that this process isn’t likely to erase every mention of this event from existence. Even if you’re successful in getting your case expunged, there a few instances where it might still see the light of day.
- Online reports. If you did something newsworthy, that report isn’t going to go away with your expungement. Any online news reports or social media posts dealing with your arrest or case will live on.
- Subsequent charges. Being a repeat offender is likely going to bring those old charges back to light. Both the prosecutor and the judge will be able to view your records should you end up in front of them once again.
- Certain sensitive jobs. Even expunged records won’t disappear for the sake of certain sensitive positions. For example, if you apply for a law enforcement job or a position working with small children, there is a chance that those employers will have access to your files.
Need Your Record Sealed? Contact Our Alabama Expungement Attorneys
If you are looking for a job, want to purchase a home, or have certain aspirations for the future, don’t allow your past mistakes to hold you back. Alabama now allows certain records to be expunged, and you should take full advantage of this law if you are eligible to participate.
At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP, we believe that each case and client is unique. Getting your record expunged is a noble goal, but the process may be complicated and even confusing depending on the particulars of your case. Contact our Auburn office today at (334) 821-3892 or online to schedule an initial consultation regarding your Alabama expungement. We’ll outline your legal options and take every measure possible under the law to protect your right to this valuable service.