HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - At some point in your past were you arrested and charged with a non-violent crime in Alabama? Was the case resolved in your favor? Are you tired of having to answer questions about it every time you apply for a new job or fill out applications?
If so, there is good news for you.
in April Alabama passed a new expungement law that will allow many people who were arrested or charged with a crime to finally be able to clear their criminal record and to answer “No” in most cases when asked if they have previously been arrested or charged with a crime.
"If a person has ever been arrested for a crime and they were subsequently found not guilty or if the case was dismissed, the records of those arrests still show," explains attorney George Flowers.
Price & Flowers Law Firm in Huntsville is the first in the area to get ahead of the new law by offering help to people who want their records zapped.
Flowers says ahead of July 7 when the new expungement law takes effect, his law firm has already seen tons of interest: but there is a process, he says.
"In the circuit court there's a petition and a hearing process that a person would have to go through and in fact that prosecuting agency gets an opportunity to object and to present reasons why a case should not be expunged."
If you have ever been arrested or charged with a non-violent crime in Alabama but not convicted, then you may qualify to have your record “expunged” under Alabama’s 2014 expungement law. To expunge something is to clean, zap or erase it. That is essentially the goal behind the new law, to provide an opportunity for those who never should have been charged with a crime in the first place or who deserve a second chance to have certain records erased, zapped or expunged.
The cold hard reality is that a prior criminal charge, even one that was made without any basis, can follow and haunt you throughout your professional life. It raises a red flag whenever a potential employer sees a prior criminal charge on an applicant’s record, or when the applicant answers “yes” or when asked he or she has ever been arrested.
You may be thinking this option might allow career criminals to make their records appear more palatable, but there are clauses in the law to prevent that, Flowers says.
"I understand that concern. There is a list of offenses in the law that are not going to be eligible for expungement ever," explains Flowers.
This offenses are mostly violent crimes and offenses involving children.
The new law does not allow a person to get convictions expunged, but the new law does allow a person to seek the expungement of charges that were resolved in the person’s favor. In some situations a person can file for expungement immediately. The length of time that must go by from the end of the case before expungement, varies depending on the type of charge and how it was concluded.
If the court grants expungement, it will issue an order that related police, court and government agency records, with certain limited exceptions, be expunged. The case is deemed never to have occurred. If anyone, with limited exceptions, inquires about the case, the agency must tell the person inquiring that no record exists. If a record was added to a federal database, Alabama will requested it be removed. Expunged records will not be transmitted to the FBI’s national criminal records repository and records sent there will be requested to be withdrawn. A person who has had his or her record expunged does not have to disclose the matter on an application for employment, credit or other types of application. However, the person still has a duty to disclose the matter to certain government agencies, utilities, banks and other financial institutions, and these groups can still gain access to the expunged records under certain circumstances.
The law does not set a limit on the number of charges a person can have expunged, but the person’s other criminal history will be considered when deciding whether or not to grant expungement.
For more information, you can get in contact with Price & Flowers Law Firm by clicking here.