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The expungement process allows eligible citizens to seal their criminal records under some circumstances. Alabama only permits the expungement of certain criminal convictions. To get more information about whether your records might qualify for an expungement, you may wish to meet with a Pelham expungement lawyer.

A well-versed criminal defense attorney may be able to review your records and determine whether you are eligible to apply for an expungement. As the requirements for expungement are complicated, having legal advice may be essential.

Eligibility Requirement in Pelham

The Alabama expungement law allows some individuals who have been charged with, and not convicted of, criminal offenses to expunge records related to the charges. To qualify for expungement, the charges must have resulted in:

  • An acquittal
  • A not guilty verdict
  • A dismissal
  • A no-bill issued by a grand jury
  • The completion of a diversion program

There are some restrictions on expungement when charges have been dismissed without prejudice. This means that the charges could be re-filed. In this situation, the dismissal must have occurred a minimum of two years ago and the prosecutor must not have refiled the charges. The persons must have no other criminal convictions during those two years. An exception could be made for minor traffic violations.

There also is a waiting period to file an expungement if the charges were resolved through the completion of a court-sanctioned diversion program. Individuals may file an application for expungement not earlier than one year from the date of program completion. All fines and fees assessed by the court related to the offense also must be paid in full.

Charges that May Be Expunged

There also are restrictions on what types of charges may be expunged. Misdemeanor offenses, traffic violations, municipal ordinance violations, and other violations could typically be expunged. Felony offenses have special requirements that may necessitate getting advice from a Pelham expungement lawyer. Pursuant to Alabama Code § 15-27-2, certain felony charges could be expunged, with some restrictions:

  • If the charge was dismissed without prejudice, individuals must wait five years from the date of dismissal and have no other criminal convictions other than minor traffic violations
  • If the charge with dismissed with prejudice or resulted in an acquittal, a no- bill, or nolle prosequi, the waiting period is 90 days from the date of dismissal

There also is an exception for law enforcement agencies with respect to expunged records of violent felony charges. If needed for criminal investigative purposes, these expunged records may be provided to law enforcement agencies.

Procedures for Criminal Charges

Individuals who wish to expunge these records must apply to the circuit court in the county in which the prosecutor originally filed the criminal charges and pay fees for each charge that they wish to have expunged. Applicants also must pay $25 for a certified criminal history for each charge, and for fingerprint cards.

If the prosecution or the accuser opposes the expungement, the judge then will set a hearing within 14 days of the filing of the objection on whether the charges should be expunged. If unopposed, the judge is not required to hold a hearing on the application. As applying for expungement could be complex, seeking the advice of an attorney in Pelham may be useful.

If the judge holds a hearing, the judge must consider various factors in deciding whether to grant an expungement application. This could include:

  • The type and severity of the crime charged
  • The age of the persons at the time they committed the crime
  • Evidence of rehabilitation and recommendations from community members
  • Various other circumstances and characteristics of the offense

No judge is required to grant an expungement in any case. It is in the sole discretion of the judge to decide whether to allow an expungement.

Talk to a Pelham Expungement Attorney

Sealing criminal records from public view may be essential to your ability to get jobs, seek new career paths, and obtain professional licenses. A Pelham expungement lawyer may be able to assist you in applying for expungement, given your circumstances.

Since you were not convicted of a criminal offense, you should be able to fully put the matter behind you. You may be unable to do so unless you apply for an expungement of your records.