Expungement of Adult Criminal Records
In April of 2014, the State of Alabama enacted a law allowing individuals who have been charged with a non-violent felony or misdemeanor, but not convicted, the possibility of having the record erased from public view.
The District Attorney’s Office cannot assist or advise individuals in their pursuit of expungement. In fact, our office may oppose expungement. However, in an effort to help educate the public, we are posting some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the process:
Individuals charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense, a traffic violation, or a municipal ordinance violation. The charge must have been dismissed with prejudice, no-billed by a grand jury, the person was found not guilty of the charge, or the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than two years ago and has not been refiled.
What about felony charges?
The act allows for expunging non-violent felony charges, in the event of a no-bill by a grand jury, a dismissal of the charge with prejudice, a finding of not guilty, and one year after completion of a diversion program like drug treatment, mental health treatment or veterans court.
A person is also eligible if the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than five years ago, has not been re-filed, and the person has not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor crime, any violation, or any traffic violation, excluding minor traffic violations, during the previous five years.
What felony charges are NOT eligible to be expunged?
Violent felonies listed in the Alabama code are not eligible, including: capital murder, murder, manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, robbery, burglary, arson, stalking, sexual abuse and domestic violence 1 and 2.
Do I need an attorney?
Hiring an attorney is not required by the act. If you feel comfortable with filling-out court forms, filing them, serving them, and representing yourself if a hearing is held, you may do so. As a general rule, in any matter involving legal rights it is always advisable to consult an attorney.
What is the process?
A petition must be filed with the Circuit Court in the county where the charge was filed and prosecuted. The petition must include:
– A sworn statement that the person meets the expungement requirements;
– A case action summary or certified copy of arrest and disposition;
– A certified copy of the arrest record from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center;
– A description of the charges to be considered for removal and description of the agencies involved in the arrest and incarceration.
Are there any other requirements?
– A $300 administrative fee plus any additional court cost and/or docket fees must be paid to the court when the petition is filed;
– All court fees, restitutions, fines and fees associated with the case must have been paid.
Who must be notified?
A copy of the petition and sworn affidavit must be provided to the District Attorney’s office, the arresting law enforcement agency and the clerk of court of the jurisdiction for which the records are sought to be expunged. The District Attorney’s office is expected to review the petition and make an effort to notify any victims in the case.
Can the request be opposed?
The DA’s office and the victim(s) have 45 days to file a petition opposing the expungement. If the objection is filed, the Court will set a hearing date no sooner than 14 days after the filing date.
What if nobody objects?
The court can review the petition and rule without a hearing.
If the court approves the request, what happens to the records?
The court will order the expungement of all records in the custody of the court and any records held by any other agency or official, including law enforcement records, except privileged investigation reports by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and files of the District Attorney. The related agencies must then verify to the court within six months that the expungement has been completed.
What if somebody asks about the case after it’s been expunged?
The Act says, “The proceedings regarding the charge shall be deemed never to have occurred.” The court and other agencies are supposed to reply to any inquiry that “no record exists on the matter,” and the person shall not be required to disclose the related facts on job, credit applications, or other applications. However, the law states that a petitioner has the duty to disclose the “fact of the record and any matter relating thereto to any government, regulatory or licensing agency, any utility or its affiliates or any bank or financial institution. “ These entities shall, upon filing notice with the court, have the right to inspect the expunged records.
Will the record exist anywhere?
The related agencies must send the records to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center which will archive them in a protected file. The records cannot be used for a non-justice purpose and can only be made available when a criminal justice agency provides notice of an investigation of the individual.
What records are expunged?
Arrest records, booking or arrest photos, index references for public records searches and other documents or electronic files concerning the arrest or charge.