Good News For Old Marijuana Convictions - Alabama Just Expanded Its Expungement Law to Include Most Misdemeanor Convictions


marijuana gavel .jpeg

This past Friday, April 23, 2021, was a historic day for those with old marijuana convictions in Alabama. At 4:15 PM, Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 117, now Alabama Act 2021-286), into law, and it will go into effect on July 1, 2021. This bill will greatly expand the availability of expungement. If you have never heard the term expungement before, expungement is very similar to having a record sealed or erased. For most purposes, expungement makes an old criminal case like it never even happened. Obviously, getting an old criminal charge expunged in a huge benefit to the person who has a criminal charge on their record.

Under prior Alabama law, aside from a narrow exception for certain convictions of those who were being sexually trafficked, only cases with a favorable outcome could be expunged. So, for most people convicted of a crime, the criminal conviction was on their record forever. This included misdemeanor offenses.

For example, let’s say that years ago you were pulled over for a traffic violation, the police found a small amount of marijuana on you, you were charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and you went to court and were found guilty. Under Alabama’s old expungement law, no matter how many years passed, that conviction would remain on your record. Even if the case was 10 or 20 years old, it would show up on your criminal record when your background was checked.

Alabama's new expungement law aims to fix this and make things more fair. Under the new law a person can file for expungement of most misdemeanor convictions, including possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia convictions, after three years have passed provided they otherwise meet the criteria for expungement. However, even under the new law DUI convictions still cannot be expunged.

Over the last couple of decades the attitudes of Americans regarding marijuana have shifted dramatically. While the new bill does not single out marijuana convictions from other misdemeanor convictions. It is clear that this shift in attitudes regarding marijuana was at least one of the major reasons for expanding the availability of expungement. And just to be clear there are many other minor misdemeanor convictions affected by the new law.

If you or someone you know has an old Alabama misdemeanor conviction and you would like to find out if it is eligible for expungement, then reach out to me. You can use the “contact” button below.