Alabama Criminal Law: A Brief Overview of Expungement for Criminal Records

Having a criminal record of any type can be extremely detrimental to your future. It can make it difficult to get a job, get a loan, and can even impact your relationships with friends and family. In some cases, it may be possible to have a criminal record expunged, meaning it no longer shows up on your record for any legal reasons or for background checks. While it is quite difficult to qualify for an expungement, it may be possible in certain situations such as the following:

  • Dropped Charges – If you were arrested and then had the charges dropped, you can have the record of arrest expunged.
  • Conviction Overturned – If you were convicted of a crime, but then it was overturned due to new evidence or other reasons, you may qualify for an expungement.
  • Completion of Pretrial Diversionary Program – Judges and prosecutors will sometimes offer defendants an option to take advantage of a pretrial diversion program. This allows them to complete certain requirements, at which point the charges can qualify for expungement.
  • Other – Certain other rare cases may qualify for expungement. If you believe that your case could or should qualify, the first step is to speak with an experienced criminal law attorney.

Process for Expunging a Criminal Record

If you would like to attempt to have something on your criminal record expunged, it is essential that you follow all the legal requirements exactly as required in the State of Alabama. Even minor issues can cause the request to be delayed or denied by the courts.

The first thing to do during the expungement process is to fill out an application (often referred to as a petition) for expungement. Once the paperwork for this application is completed, it must be submitted to the correct criminal court, along with the processing fees. The specific forms that are necessary vary slightly from county to county, and it is important to make sure you are using the most up to date versions. This is why it is best to either have an attorney secure the proper forms or to go directly to the courts to request the needed documents.

Once received by the courts, it will be delivered to the judge who is responsible for your case for review. The judge can either approve the application, deny it, or schedule a hearing to go over the facts of the case.

What to Do If Expungement is Granted

If your expungement request is approved, it may be necessary to send the approval paperwork to additional courts or agencies to ensure the record is expunged from every system. Sending copies to the arresting agency, the state department of corrections, and the courts where it was heard is typically sufficient in most situations.

Never Seek Expungement Alone

Having a criminal record expunged can be a very complicated process and not one you want to try to handle on your own. While it is impossible to guarantee a successful result, having an experienced attorney working on your behalf will give you the best chances possible. Contact John M. Totten, P.C. to talk about your options and see how we can help you through this important process.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.