Facing the justice system can be a very long process. Fines, jail time, and reputation are all on the table. These consequences of a criminal charge are tough things to deal with whether convicted or acquitted. Luckily almost all states have adopted remedies to these consequences. Alabama has just expanded its law on expungements. This can potentially improve the lives of thousands of people in a profound way.
Expungement vs. Sealing in Alabama
Expungement is the destruction of records from the state’s justice system and records. Sealing is that records are stored, under a seal, but they are not generally accessible to the public
What is the current law?
Since 2014 the expungement law in Alabama has allowed for charges of non-violent and non-sex offense crimes to be expunged if the person charged completed an out-of-court program or if the charges were dropped. General charges, that is any charge of any nature, could be expunged if the jury acquitted the defendant, unless the crime was a violent crime. A big thing to note about the law signed in 2014 is that no convicted crime could be expunged. Only charges which did not result in a conviction could be expunged. The law signed into action during the legislative session of 2021 builds on the 2014 law.
What will change with the new Alabama Expungement law?
The new law has one major component which could relieve thousands of people: it allows for the expungement of convictions.
Understanding the revised Alabama Expungement Law
- Serious traffic offenses, sex offenses, and violent offenses are still not expugnable.
- Convictions that will be expugnable include low-level drug offenses (like marijuana and paraphernalia offenses).
- Low-level theft/petty crime offenses will be applicable for expungement.
This expansion of the law has the potential to alleviate post-conviction consequences for thousands of individuals.
Limitations to the new expungement law in Alabama
An Alabamian has to wait 3 years after completing all necessary probation and programs to have a misdemeanor conviction expunged. For felony convictions, a person must petition for a pardon and then wait 180 days to have the felony expunged. People are limited to 1 felony expungement and 2 misdemeanor expungements. The cost of expungement is being raised from $300 to $500. Luckily, multiple filing fees will be dropped if the fees were incurred all from one arrest. If the fees were incurred from multiple arrests then the filing fees must still be paid.
Summary of the good
Overall there are two major points to consider. First, this new law allows for the expungement of convictions. There are hundreds of thousands of convicted felons in Alabama. Of course this law will not allow every last one of them to have their records expunged, but a good percentage can if they follow the proper steps. Second, charges that did not lead to conviction which related to violent offenses, can now be expunged as well. Both of these things considered the law is a major step in expanding expungement.
The expungement process is a tricky process with a lot of legal loops. Even with the new law bringing some much needed clarity to the process the need for an attorney is still highly advised. An attorney can guide and represent you before the state.
Call us at (256) 236-7354 or click here to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you expunge these records and get your life back to normal as soon as possible.