What is Expungement and How Can It Help You?

Paul Seckel April 9, 2021

If you have a previous arrest or misdemeanor conviction that is not only a source of embarrassment, but is also keeping you from a career or a career advancement, you may want to look at expunging your record. Expungement can be a lengthy and somewhat costly process, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

Alabama does not automatically expunge your criminal record; you must take action. Seeking the counsel of Guntersville Law, LLC can be of benefit to help you collect all the necessary records that are required for the petition and to assist you in developing the petition to ensure it is in compliance with the law as well as written in a manner that increases your chances for a favorable result. It is possible that a hearing and testimony will be required.

So, what is expungement? Under Alabama law, when a case is expunged, the arrest and charge are eliminated from your official criminal history in the state records. Once your record is expunged, the charged are deemed to never have taken place. The Court and other agencies must reply to any query that no record exists on the earlier proceedings, except in specific situations. If your record is expunged, you no longer have a duty to disclose the record or any matter relating to it.

There are specific criteria that must be met in order for an arrest or misdemeanor charge to qualify for expungement. Along with meeting the specific criteria, there is also a mountain of paperwork that must be collected and filed for each charge you want to expunge and a Petition for Expungement must be filed in the Circuit Court where the charge was initially filed.

If one of the below criteria is net, a non-felony charge, such as a traffic violation, a misdemeanor criminal offense OR a municipal ordinance violation, may be expunged:

  • There was a dismissal of the charge “with prejudice” (permanently dismissed)

  • The charge was no billed by a grand jury

  • The defendant received a “not guilty” verdict for the charge

  • The charge was dismissed “without prejudice” (not permanently dismissed) over two years ago and has not been refiled subsequently, and you have not received a conviction for any other misdemeanor or felony crime, any traffic violation, or any other violation, besides minor traffic infractions, during the past two years.

Non-violent Felony charges are possible to expunge in the following cases:

  • The charge was dismissed “with prejudice” (permanently dismissed)

  • The charge was no billed by a grand jury

  • Dismissal of the charge following the successful completion of a substance abuse court program, mental health program, veteran’s court or any other court-approved deferred prosecution program, diversion program AND over one year has passes since the successful completion of the program

  • If the charge was dismissed “without prejudice” (not permanently dismissed) more than five years ago, was not refiled, and you have 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.

  • Ninety days have passed from the date of dismissal with prejudice, no-bill, acquittal, or nolle prosequi and the charge has not been refilled.

Expungement is an excellent opportunity for you to clear your record and gain a fresh new foothold in your life. It can be a long process and approval is at the court’s discretion, but because of these reasons, you should work with a team of attorneys that work for you and care about your successful future. At Guntersville Law, LLC, we are dedicated to helping our clients and believe in second chances!