Alabama recently strengthened and expanded its expungement laws. In 2021, the state legislature and the governor adopted a new law, known as the Redeemer Act. This law now improves someone’s chances of cleaning up their criminal record after a minor issue.
Generally, expungement – which is the removal of certain records from someone’s criminal background – is only an option so long as someone continues to avoid more arrests and criminal charges. Therefore, the sooner someone eliminates a record, the better their chances of maintaining a blemish-free personal history.
How soon can someone qualify for an expungement in Alabama?
Some cases qualify after just 90 days
When someone faces criminal charges but does not have an actual conviction on their record, they may potentially be eligible for an expungement not long after the resolution of their legal matter. If the courts dismiss a charge with prejudice, someone can ask for an expungement after more than 90 days have passed. The same is true if a grand jury declined to bring charges or someone went to trial and secured a not guilty verdict. In a scenario where the courts dismissed the charge without prejudice and have not filed charges again, that individual may qualify for an expungement after a year has passed.
Convictions require a longer wait
If someone pleads guilty or gets convicted after a trial, it will take longer for them to qualify for an expungement. However, the law does allow them to remove the record of their arrest in conviction in certain circumstances.
They will typically have to wait at least three years from the date of their conviction. They will also need to have served their sentence, paid all relevant fines and otherwise fulfilled the sentence imposed by the courts. Provided that it is a misdemeanor offense that does not involve violence, a sex crime, moral turpitude or a serious traffic violation, it may be possible to have those records sealed three years after the end of the criminal process. Felony offenses typically only lead to expungement after dismissed charges, not guilty verdicts or a pardon.
The sooner someone moves to remove the record of a criminal blemish from their record, the sooner they can move on with their lives after their brush with the legal system. Seeking legal guidance to explore whether or not a situation qualifies for an expungement might be beneficial for those who have recently been arrested in Alabama.