Expungement of an Alabama Arrest or Charge
Have a prior arrest or charge that is an embarrassment or, worse yet, is holding back your career? There is good news, if the charge was resolved in your favor and was not a violent felony, then attorney Frank Ward can likely get it expunged from your criminal record.
Expungement of criminal charges in Alabama is not automatic. You must take action. Specifically, certain certified documents and records must be obtained, and a sworn petition seeking expungement must be filed in the criminal division of the relevant Circuit Court. Certain entities must be served with a copy of the petition, then there is a period of time in which an objection to the granting of an expungement may be filed. The Circuit Court may also require a hearing before deciding whether to grant an expungement.
A good expungement attorney will assist you in gathering all the records that are required to be filed with the petition. He or she will also craft the petition for you so that it meets the requirements of the law and make sure that it is written in a manner aimed at increasing the chances of success. If a hearing is necessary, he or she will prepare for it with you, including preparing you to testify before the court, if needed.
Frank Ward has been handling expungement cases ever since Alabama passed an expungement law. He has handled hundreds of Alabama expungement cases for his clients. He wants to help you too. Let him put his experience to work for you and help expunge your record. Contact him today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Alabama Expungement Questions
What is expungement?
The purpose of expungement is to remove a criminal arrest, charge and prosecution from your record. When a case is expunged in Alabama, the arrest and charge are removed from your official Alabama criminal history. After an expungement, the proceedings regarding the charge are deemed never to have occurred. The court and other agencies, except for in very limited circumstances, are required to reply to any inquiry that no record exists of the matter. Further, the person whose record has been expunged does not have a duty to disclose the fact of the record or any matter relating thereto, except in limited circumstances. However, the person does still have the duty to disclose to any government regulatory or licensing agency, any utility and its agents and affiliates, banks and other financial institutions.
Where is Alabama expungement law found?
Alabama’s expungement statutes are found in Title 15, Chapter 27 of the Code of Alabama. Alabama’s expungement law was first passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law in 2014. Alabama was the last state to pass an expungement law.
What types of criminal charges may be expunged?
Alabama law permits the expungement of the vast majority of misdemeanor and felony charges, provided the charges were resolved in your favor. However, a violent offense as defined in Section 12-25-32 of the Code of Alabama may only be expunged if you were found not guilty of the charge. Also, in some situations a certain period of time must have elapsed since the charge was resolved without the charge being refiled or a criminal conviction occurring before the person is eligible to file for expungement. An Alabama expungement attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to file for expungement in Alabama.
Can I get an offense I was convicted of expunged?
Unfortunately, under current Alabama law convictions cannot be expunged. However, if a charge was dismissed, nolle prossed, no billed by a grand jury, dismissed as a result of completing a diversion program or other court program, or if you were found not guilty, then it can be expunged.
What court decides my expungement case?
An expungement petition is supposed to be filed in the criminal division of the circuit court in the county in which the charge was filed. This means that often the petition is to be filed in a different court from the court where the underlying criminal charge was filed. For example, if you were seeking to expunge a charge that was resolved in the Huntsville Municipal Court, the expungement petition should be filed in the Madison County Circuit Court, not the Huntsville Municipal Court. Likewise if the charge was resolved in the Madison County District Court, then the petition would be need to be filed in the Madison County Circuit Court, not the District Court.
Who can object to me getting an expungement?
Alabama’s expungement law states that “the district attorney and the victim shall have a period of 45 days to file a written objection to the granting of the petition or the district attorney shall be deemed to have waived to the right to object.” Section 15-27-3(c) of the Code of Alabama. Just because an objection is filed, does not mean that expungement may not still be granted. If the prosecuting authority or victim files an objection, the court will set a date for a hearing before the court on the petition for expungement. If no objection is filed, then the court may grant the petition without a hearing or may still set a hearing.
Is expungement automatic in Alabama?
No. The judge assigned to your expungement case has discretion to grant or deny expungement. Alabama law provides a list of 10 factors the court is to consider when evaluating whether or not to grant an expungement. That list is found in Section 15-27-1(a) of the Code of Alabama.
My criminal case was dismissed, or I was found not guilty, does that mean my arrest or charge has been expunged?
No. Just because the case was resolved in your favor does not expunge it from your record. The court and police and other agencies still have records relating to your arrest and charge. Further, the fact of your arrest and charge is still listed on you Alabama criminal history. To have these records expungement, you must file a separate expungement proceeding in the Circuit Court of the county where your case was prosecuted. An expungement lawyer can help you with preparing and filing the petition.
How many different criminal charges can I get expunged?
Alabama law does not limit the number of charges a person can have expunged. However, the more charges you are seeking to expunge, the more likely it is that the district attorney will object and the judge will deny the petitions.
How long does it take to get an expungement?
As a general rule, 2 to 4 months, but it can vary. There are certain certified records that must be filed with a petition for expungement. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to obtain all of those records. When the petition is filed the law requires certain agencies must be served with a copy of the petition. Further, there is a 45-day period for objections following service of the petition. This means that the court will generally not take action on a petition for a minimum of 45 days after it is filed.
What are the benefits of expungement?
The main reason people seek expungement in Alabama is because of the detrimental effect that a criminal record is having on their careers and employment opportunities. The primary benefits of an expungement are having the arrest and criminal charge removed from your Alabama criminal history and having the court records expunged.
Does an Alabama expungement affect my FBI record?
Alabama’s expungement law states “records expunged under this chapter may not be transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation national criminal records repository … [and] … any records subject to be expunged under [Alabama’s expungement law] and transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to the expungement of such record shall be requested for withdrawal within the national system of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.” Section 15-27-7(b), Code of Alabama