ALABAMA EXPUNGEMENT BILL – NEW PROPOSED LEGISLATION UPDATE

Alabama Expungement Bill Makes It Way Through Legislature

Once again this year, an Alabama expungement law has been proposed in the Alabama legislature.  The bill was introduced as Senate Bill 108 by Senator Roger Bedford.  The good news is that this Alabama expungement law may actually have a viable chance of passage.  The bill has passed the Alabama Senate and is not in the House for consideration.

The Bill would authorize a person to petition a court to have the record of certain felony or misdemeanor offenses, a violation, or traffic violations expunged in certain instances.  Under the proposed Alabama expungement law, the following cases could be expunged:

WHAT TYPES OF CASES ARE INCLUDED IN THE NEW ALABAMA EXPUNGEMENT BILL

On Misdemeanor Cases expungement would be possible:

  • Where the charge is dismissed with prejudice
  • When the charge has been no billed by a grand jury
  • When the person has been found not guilty of the charge
  • When the charge was dismissed without prejudice, has not been refiled, and the person has not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor crime, any violation, or any traffic violation, excluding minor traffic violations, during the previous two years

On Felony Cases expungement would be possible for felonies not considered as “Violent Felonies” under the Alabama Sentencing Guidelines:

  • Where the charge is dismissed with prejudice
  • When the charge has been no billed by a grand jury
  • When the person has been found not guilty of the charge
  • When the charge was dismissed without prejudice, has not been refiled, and the person has not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor crime, any violation, or any traffic violation, excluding minor traffic violations, during the previous two years

CRIMES EXCLUDED AS “VIOLENT CRIMES” IN NEW EXPUNGEMENT BILL 

PROCEDURE UNDER NEW ALABAMA EXPUNGEMENT BILL

The new expungement bill requires a sworn expungement petition to be filed with the Court which handled the case.  The expungement petition must be served on the District Attorney or prosecutor.  The D.A. or prosecutor must make “reasonable efforts” to give notice to any victim in the case.  The prosecutor and/or the victim then has 45 days to file a written objection to the petition.  If either the prosecutor or the victim objects, the court must set the petition for a hearing.

FACTORS CONSIDERED BY COURT UNDER PROPOSED ALABAM EXPUNGEMENT BILL

Under the proposed law, the court should consider the following eight factors in deciding whether to grant the petition:

  • Nature and seriousness of the offense committed
  • Circumstances under which the offense occurred
  • Date of the offense
  • Age of the person when the offense was committed
  • Whether the offense was an isolated or repeated incident
  • Social conditions which may have contributed to the offense
  • An available probation or parole record, report, or recommendation
  • Evidence of rehabilitation, including good conduct in prison or jail, in the community, counseling or psychiatric treatment received, acquisition of additional academic or vocational schooling, successful business or employment history, and the recommendation of his or her supervisors or other persons in the community.

Under the proposed law it appears that t hearing is mandatory, and the court must be reasonably satisfied that the person meets the requirements for expungement.  The law also states that any appellate review of a court’s decision is to be for “abuse of discretion.”  This is an extremely deferential review standard.  The court also has the power to determine ho many cases should be expunged after the first expunged case.  If there is no objection then the court can rule on the petition without a hearing.

COSTS OF EXPUNGEMENT

Expungement comes with a steep price tag; a $600.00 filing fee.  However, there is a provision and procedure for claiming indigence which allows the person to pay the filing fee in payments.  The filing fee under the proposed Alabama expungement bill is $600.00.  

EFFECT OF EXPUNGEMENT UNDER PROPOSED LAW

Under the proposed Alabama expungement bill records of the case are sealed and sent to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.  The records affected include the arrest reports, booking and arrest photographs, and computer database records of the State.  The State of Alabama retains a copy of the case “indefinitely.”  However, access to the record requires a court order.

The bill is still under review and subject to amendment.  Amendment in the House is a possibility, and the original bill was amended a number of times in the Senate.  Therefore, the information above is subject to change.  We will update this page as necessary.

 

Bradford Ladner, LLP. is an Alabama based law firm with offices in Birmingham and Mobile, practicing Alabama State and Federal criminal defense, Alabama State and Federal appellate law, Alabama divorce law, and Alabama civil litigation. We practice in all Alabama Courts Statewide and in Federal Court Nationwide
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