A criminal record can seem like it will haunt your for the rest of your life. Even if you are not ever found guilty of the crime, your criminal record can show you were arrested. This information is generally available to the public, and a criminal arrest record can make it difficult to get a job and limit future opportunities. Fortunately, in some cases a person arrested of a crime in Alabama can seek an expungement of the criminal charge, to get their criminal record cleared. If your want to have your criminal record cleared, contact your experienced Alabama criminal defense attorney to find out if your record can be expunged.
Expungements in Alabama Criminal Cases
People filing to have their criminal charges expunged are known as petitioners. If the court grants the petition for expungement, the state agencies that keep a record of your criminal charge will forward those records to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). The ALEA will keep a digital copy of the records and destroy all the physical records of your criminal charge. The petitioner's criminal charge will be sealed.
A public search of your criminal record will not show the criminal charge. Expunged records cannot be used for non-criminal justice reasons and are only available to law enforcement agencies in a criminal matter. After a record is expunged, the petitioner generally does not have to say they had a criminal charge in a job application or credit application.
Are you eligible for an expungement?
Expungements are not available if you have been convicted of a criminal charge. Expungements are only available to clear your criminal record if you have been arrested but not convicted of the crime,
Not every crime is eligible for an expungement. In order for a violation, traffic offense, or misdemeanor to be expunged, the charge meet one of the following:
- The charge was dismissed with prejudice;
- The charge was no billed by a grand jury;
- The defendant was found not guilty; or
- The charge was dismissed without prejudice more than 2 years ago and was not refiled, and the defendant has not been convicted of any offense, except minor traffic offenses, during that time
For a non-violent felony charge to be expunged, the charge must meet one of the above conditions, or:
- Be dismissed after completion of a drug court program, mental health court program, diversion program, or other approved deferred prosecution program and passage of more than one year;
- If the charge was dismissed without prejudice over five years ago, was not refiled and the defendant has not been convicted of anything other than minor traffic violations during that time; or
- At least 90 days have passed from the date the charge was dismissed with prejudice, no bill, acquittal, or nolle prosequi and the charge has not been refiled
A violent felony can only be expunged if the petitioner went to trial and was found not guilty of the charge
To petition for expungement, the petitioner needs to draft and file with the Circuit Court a petition requesting an expungement and attach certain documents such as a certified criminal history record from the ALEA and a certified record of arrest, disposition from the court, or case action summary. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you draft this petition correctly and obtain all necessary records to ensure your criminal records get expunged.
Experienced Northern Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney
An arrest without a conviction should not have to haunt you the rest of your life. John Allen understands the importance of clearing your criminal record. If you have been arrested and your case was dismissed, you can file for an expungement to have your record cleared. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, John Allen knows how to fight for his clients, from the beginning all the way to the end. Contact Huntsville criminal defense lawyer John Allen today.