One of the worst parts of a criminal conviction or, for that matter, an arrest in Alabama is not necessarily the sentence – which may include fines, incarceration, probation, or other forms of punishment – but the collateral consequences. Collateral consequences include the social and financial harm associated with an arrest or criminal record. Because of the latter, you can lose your job or miss out on career opportunities. Your reputation is at stake as much as your financial future.
This is true for people who made a mistake but are otherwise law-abiding citizens. Think of drunk driving cases, where a person underestimates their blood alcohol content and ends up getting arrested. An incident like this can happen to the best of us as well as the worst of us.
At Stone & Britt, LLC, our expungement lawyer based in Wetumpka handles all types of expungement cases and, when appropriate and applicable, sealing of the record cases. Getting criminal convictions and arrest records expunged is your best means of safeguarding your future. Contact us at 334-517-6520 to schedule a consultation and to learn more about what opportunities are available to you.
Understanding Expungement in Alabama
Expungement is the process of erasing a criminal arrest or conviction from your record via a court order.
Once a record has been expunged, it's as though it never existed. You typically don't have to disclose it to potential employers, landlords, or professional licensing boards. However, expungement can't erase memory—if your record was already made public via news reports or social media, an expungement won't fix this.
Federal expungements are very rare, with most expungements occurring in state courts. The availability, eligibility criteria, application process, and consequences of expungement vary widely between state jurisdictions.
Expungement is not available in every state. Some only allow a record to be sealed—meaning the public cannot access it, but certain government agencies can.
Where it is available, the expungement process typically involves a few steps:
- Filing a petition or application, along with supporting material and filing fee, with the court that heard your case.
- Serving the application on the prosecutor.
- Attending a hearing that will be set for the court to decide whether to issue an expungement order.
Again, each state has its own laws specific to expungement, and that includes the expungement process. You should always consult with a criminal defense lawyer in Alabama if you want to learn more about expungements. Contact our criminal defense attorney located in Wetumpka today at 334-517-6520 to get started.
What Qualifies for Expungement in Alabama?
Whether an arrest or conviction is eligible to be expunged depends on the relevant state's laws unless it's a federal arrest or conviction. But again, federal crimes are rarely expunged. In fact, only individuals convicted of minor offenses under the Controlled Substances Act can have their federal record expunged. 18 U.S.C. § 3607(c). In the latter instance, you should speak to a federal criminal defense lawyer in Alabama to learn more.
Eligible Alabama Criminal Convictions
As for arrests and convictions on a state level, it is generally easier to have misdemeanors expunged than felonies. Examples of crimes that are often eligible include:
- Non-violent crimes
- Non-sexual crimes
Most states exclude serious offenses from expungements, like murder, sex offenses, fraud, and DUI offenses.
Eligible Arrest Records in Alabama
The outcome of the case may also be relevant. Most states allow non-conviction offenses to be expunged, which include
- Arrests with no subsequent conviction
- Charges that resulted in an acquittal
- Charges that were dismissed or withdrawn
- Cases resolved via a diversion program
Other Potential Eligibility Requirements for Expungement
Eligibility for expungement also varies between states. Typically, you can only seek expungement after serving your full sentence. Some jurisdictions also impose waiting periods before you can apply for an expungement of your record or limit the number of expungements you can request.
A limited number of states have introduced automatic expungement laws. This would mean you would have to do nothing because the expungement would be automatic. For example, juvenile arrests are often automatically expunged.
Benefits of Expungement in Alabama
An arrest or criminal conviction can have serious long-term consequences beyond any sentence imposed by a court. A criminal record can affect your ability to find employment, secure accommodation, apply for a loan, and obtain a professional license.
Expungement gives you another chance at a “clean slate.”
It can open up job opportunities that may have previously been closed by your criminal history and make it easier to secure accommodation. It may also help when applying for loans.
Alternative to Expungement: Sealing of the Record
Some states provide for criminal records to be sealed rather than expunged.
Where a record is sealed, it cannot be seen by members of the public, like landlords, employers, and creditors. However, the record still exists and can potentially be accessed by certain government agencies, like law enforcement, courts, prosecutors, immigration agencies, and professional licensing boards.
Three Reasons to Hire an Expungement Attorney in Alabama
The availability of expungement and the application process to file an expungement petition are state-specific. Eligibility criteria can be complicated, with several overlapping laws governing expungements. The process can also be complex, involving strict compliance with the rules and provision of relevant supporting documentation.
While you can represent yourself in an expungement petition, it's worth speaking to an attorney for the following reasons:
- Ensure eligibility. We will advise you whether you are eligible to apply. The eligibility requirements for expungement are updated regularly, and our criminal defense attorney is familiar with the current legal position. We will review your criminal history, personal circumstances, and the law to confirm whether you can apply for an expungement or sealing of your criminal record.
- Strong, persuasive application. We will also help you prepare a strong expungement application. Our criminal defense lawyer knows how to obtain copies of the documents you need and will help you develop submissions as to why the judge should expunge your record.
- Improved chances of success. It is important to get an expungement petition right. In some states, a refusal may bar you from reapplying for a certain period of time.
In sum, our expungement attorney will review your case, advise you about your options, and help you navigate the process to a successful conclusion.
Contact an Expungement Lawyer in Wetumpka Today
If you have been convicted of a crime in Alabama and think you may be eligible for expungement, you should pursue the expungement immediately. The sooner you do, the sooner you will benefit from a clean slate. At Stone & Britt, LLC, our expungement lawyer in Wetumpka and criminal defense team handle these types of requests with urgency and accuracy. Contact us today by either filling out the online form or calling us at 334-517-6520 to schedule a consultation.