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New Expungement Law in Alabama Explained

New Expungement Law in Alabama Explained

On April 23, 2021, a new expungement law in Alabama was signed by Governor Kay Ivey. The new expungement law went into effect on July 1, 2021, and is titled “The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment and Eliminate Recidivism Act”; or the “REDEEMER Act.” So what does that mean for you?

A significant change to the law is that it allows for the expungement of criminal offenses — like nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, municipal ordinances, minor traffic violations. Violent crimes, sex offenses and major traffic convictions are still not eligible for expungement. 

Many Alabamians struggle with moving on and finding opportunities due to prior offenses still on their record from long ago. Those who are experiencing these circumstances are now eligible to have such offenses wiped from their records.

Our staff at Brackin & Johnson understand that this new expungement law could open up opportunities for many Alabama residents. We are family lawyers that represent men and women that require legal assistance and advice by providing excellent service and thorough attention to each case. 

Today, we will take a closer look at the REDEEMER Act and what it means for you.

What You Need to Know About the REDEEMER Act

This new law will allow many Alabamians with convictions of minor traffic violations, nonviolent misdemeanors, and others to apply for expungement. To be eligible for expungement, a person will need to complete all of their probation requirements, wait three years, and pay any and all of their fees.

An expungement allows for all information on the case to be wiped from the public record and can only be viewed for law enforcement purposes. The new law is intended to help struggling Alabamians find better employment due to a previous mistake that has followed them for years.

Under the new expungement law, felony expungement remains mostly the same as before. Anyone who has been charged with, but not convicted of a nonviolent felony could be eligible to have a conviction expunged from their record if:

  • The charge was dismissed with prejudice and more than 90 days have passed.
  • The charge has been no billed by a grand jury and more than 90 days have passed.
  • The person has been found not guilty of the charge and more than 90 days have passed.
  • The charge has been nolle prossed without conditions, more than 90 days have passed, and the charge or charges have not been refiled.
  • The indictment has been quashed and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled.
  • When the charge was dismissed after successful completion of a drug court program, mental health court program, diversion program, veteran’s court, or any court-approved deferred prosecution program, the program was completed at least one year prior to filing.
  • When the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than five years ago, 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 five years.
  • When the person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is a victim of human trafficking, that the person committed the misdemeanor criminal offense, violation, traffic violation, or municipal ordinance violation during the period the person was being trafficked, and that the person would not have committed the offense or violation but for being trafficked.

Questions on The REDEEMER Act: Answered

Question #1. What Are Some Restrictions with Felony  Expungement?

The new Alabama expungement law would not allow expungement of a felony case if it involved a violent felony, except for a case where the person in question was found Not Guilty. For those who are convicted of a felony, they may file a petition for expungement only if all the following conditions have been met:

  • They have been granted a certificate of pardon with restoration of civil and political rights for the conviction from the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
  • All civil and political rights previously forfeited as a result of the conviction have been restored.
  • One hundred and eighty days have passed from the date of the issuance of the certification of pardon.
  • The conviction is not for a violent offense as defined in Title 12 § 12-25-32.
  • The conviction is not a sex offense, as defined in § 15-20A-5.
  • The conviction is not an offense involving moral turpitude, as outlined in § 17-3-30.1.
  • The conviction is not a serious traffic offense, as provided in Article 9 of Chapter 5A of Title 32.

Question #2. Is there a Waiting Period to Hear About Felony Cases That Were Dismissed Without and With Prejudice?

If you have a felony and the case was dismissed without prejudice, yes, there is a waiting period. You must wait at least five years from the time of your dismissal before you qualify for expungement. Additionally, there can not be any refiled charges, and you cannot be convicted of another criminal offense.

On the other end, there is also a waiting period if there was a felony where the case was dismissed with prejudice. The waiting period is ninety days before you qualify for expungement in this case.

Question #3. Is There a Cost to Filing for Expungement?

According to the new expungement law in Alabama, you do have to pay an administrative filing fee. This fee has been raised to $500 to file for the expungement petition. Note that this fee doesn’t include court costs or docket fees.

Question #4. Is There a Limit on How Many Expungements I Can Get?

Yes. Under the new law, there is a limit. The number of expungements someone can get is one for a felony and two for misdemeanor convictions.

Question #5. Will I Have to Have a Hearing On My Petition?

It could be possible that there will need to be a hearing. If the complainant or prosecuting authority objects to the expungement, the court might have to schedule a hearing. However, if you petition for expungement and there are no objections, you may not have to go to court.

Question #6. What Happens if My Expungement is Granted?

When deciding, the court will ask for all records concerning your arrest and information about the case being expunged. Then this information will be given to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the district attorney. 

After this, the records will be given to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center located in Montgomery. Even though the record has been deleted, the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center will still copy these records. However, these records will only be accessible in a limited set of circumstances.

Baldwin County Family Law — Let Us Help You Through The Expungement Process

The expungement of your criminal record can open new doors for you and set you up for greater success in every aspect of your professional and personal life. Don’t let an old conviction hold you back from living your best life. Call Brackin & Johnson today and let’s clear the path for your new life today.

What Can an Elder Law Attorney Do For You?

What Can an Elder Law Attorney Do For You?

Navigating the legal landscape of aging can be challenging for caregivers, children, and the spouses of the elderly. If you or a loved one are concerned about ensuring elder care or the laws surrounding the elderly, you are not alone. 

Elder law is an area of practice that caters to the unique needs of seniors. Here at Brackin and Johnson, our elder law attorneys are committed to handling the legal issues that seniors face, including health, financial, guardianship, and long-term care. 

If you are in a position where you are helping make critical decisions for your loved one, it’s essential to seek guidance from an experienced elder law attorney. Here we will discuss what elder law is and how you can start navigating the waters to make informed decisions for elder care and planning. 

What Does Elder Law Encompass?

Elder law explores several different aspects of the law. Lawyers that work in this field use their vast knowledge to address the various legal and financial issues that families incur when caring for their elderly parents. Some of the legal issues that elder lawyers handle include:

  • Medicaid claims and appeals
  • Disability and Social Security claims and appeals
  • Nursing home elder abuse and fraud
  • Long-term care placements in nursing home and life care communities
  • Preservation and transfer of assets 
  • Management of assets and trusts
  • Estate planning, probate, and wills
  • Durable Power of Attorneys over healthcare and financial decisions

Do You Need To Hire An Elder Law Attorney?

Having a skilled elder law attorney is very important because it can help you and your family plan for the future and ensure your loved ones are protected. An elder law attorney can help you prepare for what happens as your loved ones age and in the event that they can no longer care for themselves. 

There Are Many Things An Elder Law Attorney Can Help With

1. Finances and Property

An elder law attorney can help you address pressing matters related to finances, property, and other vital assets. An elder legal expert can help you make the best decisions that ensure your family’s financial well-being for the future. An attorney well-versed in elder law can help you economically adjust to all possible eventualities. For example, setting up an irrevocable living trust can be set up for someone you trust to handle your affairs if you cannot do so yourself. 

2. Long-term Care Planning

Long-term care planning often involves helping seniors obtain special services when they can no longer live alone and take care of themselves. They include nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well as long-term health insurance such as Medicaid.

An elder law attorney is knowledgeable in the complex Medicaid guidelines. Medicaid benefits are asset and income-based. 

In the event that you need expensive long-term care, but Medicaid will not cover it, an elder law attorney can help you determine how to divide your assets best to qualify for Medicaid program healthcare services and protect them from being taxed on you or your family. 

3. Veteran Medical Care

Veteran medical care is among the benefits available to veterans of the United States military. An elder law attorney can help aging veterans secure such health benefits by assisting with documentation and ensuring that any issues that arise are handled in a timely and legal manner.

4. Conservatorship or Guardianship

If a person becomes incapacitated, a family member or friend can petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship. Working with an elder law attorney to formulate a disability plan is crucial. 

5. Estate Planning 

The concept of estate planning entails deciding who will inherit property after one’s death and be responsible for carrying out final wishes. The estate plan can include:

  • A last will and testament.
  • A durable power of attorney.
  • An advance medical directive

Developing an estate plan and putting it in place prevents much of the struggle that comes along with grieving the loss of a loved one. Handling their financial affairs, making funeral arrangements, and following their wishes is made a simpler and more streamlined process that is less stressful for all involved.

6. Elder Abuse

Sadly, elderly people are more likely to suffer abuse, whether that is physical or financial. Financial abuse occurs when someone wrongfully coerces an elderly individual to give them their money, assets or even change their will or living trust. Physical abuse can happen at the hands of care staff at a home or even at the hands of a loved one. An elder law attorney cracks down on abuse cases, helps recover assets, and ensures they are protected. 

Brackin & Johnson – Experienced Elder Law Attorneys

As a senior or the loved one of a senior, an experienced elder lawyer can help you address legal matters that can affect one’s quality of life and health. You’ll need an expert to interpret complex Alabama laws and you’ll want the very best to help you plan for your loved ones. 

At Brackin & Johnson, our experienced Elder Law attorneys can assist you or your loved ones with planning for long term care and ensuring medical needs are met should the time come when you or your family member can no longer care for oneself. 

Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney are our specialty, and we will work with you to ensure that your future is laid out in writing. If you’re searching for a skilled attorney specializing in elder law, get in touch with us today to schedule your free initial consultation

Eviction and Unlawful Detainer vs. Ejectment – How Do They Differ?

Eviction and Unlawful Detainer vs. Ejectment - How Do They Differ?

Are you a landlord trying to remove bad tenants from your property or a creditor trying to get former homeowners to leave a foreclosed property? Do you have a friend or family member squatting on your property?

You know that there has to be a way to regain control of your property, but may not be sure how to even start. You also have to factor in the legality of your actions. 

Let’s look at the options available to property owners in the state of Alabama who need to remove unwelcome people from their property.

What Options Are Available to Property Owners?

There are two options available in the state of Alabama to landlords and creditors when it comes to the issue of removing unwelcome people from your property.

  • Eviction and Unlawful Detainer
  • Ejection

The method you choose is based on multiple factors, including (but not limited to): 

  • Whether or not you have a landlord/tenant relationship in place, which may or may not include a formal lease agreement
  • Whether the person you are trying to remove is a tenant, former homeowner of a foreclosed property, or an individual your formerly authorize to occupy the property, but now want to leave
  • If you are seeking monetary damages

Option #1. Eviction and Unlawful Detainer

Alabama’s Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, §35-9A-101 et seq. establishes a streamlined procedure for evictions in the state. An action for Unlawful Detainer is an eviction case. It allows for the possession of the property to be returned to the owner faster and more efficiently.

If you have a landlord/tenant relationship with the occupant, whether or not you have a residential lease with a tenant, an eviction is most likely the course of action that you would take to have that tenant removed from your rental unit.

When an occupant is provided with any equity or ownership in the property as they make their rent payments, an ejection action (in place of an eviction) may need to be taken for their interest in the property to be terminated. This may be the case if your agreement with the occupant is a contract for deed, lease-purchase, or some similar agreement.

Evictions are also not an option for creditors needing to remove a prior homeowner from a foreclosed property. In this case, the creditor must pursue an ejection.

The most common reason that a landlord would file an eviction is due to non-payment of rent, but other violations could cause a landlord to begin the eviction process as well. Prior to filing the eviction, the tenant must be notified by the landlord of the issue and given a chance to resolve it. In other words, a tenant must be given an opportunity to cure his or her default. 

After providing an opportunity to cure default, and the tenant having failed to do so, the first step of the eviction process is that the landlord must serve a copy of the complaint on the property entrance so that it is visible to the tenant. If the landlord is pursuing a judgment for monetary damages, the complaint must be personally served to the tenant. The tenant then has seven days to respond to the complaint.   

Eviction or Unlawful Detainer proceedings must be initiated in the District Court (landlord-tenant court). 

Option #2. Ejection

You would need to pursue an ejection if you do not have a landlord/tenant relationship with the person residing on the property.  

An ejection is often a creditor’s action to remove a former homeowner from a foreclosed property. 

In the case of an ejection, the defendant must be personally served with the complaint, and they have 30 days to respond.  

Ejections are filed in the Circuit Court. The full range of discovery is available to both the Plaintiff and Defendant in Circuit Court. Ejection cases tend to take a lot longer to get to trial than a simple eviction process in the District Court.

Need Help with Your Eviction, Ejectment, or Unlawful Detainer? Let the Professionals Help!

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to contact Brackin & Johnson to speak directly to one of our attorneys, who can discuss your case in detail and provide you with further information about your options. We will take the guesswork out of figuring out the best method to regain control of your property, and we will be by your side throughout the entire process.

From start to finish, you can rest assured that your needs and the result you desire are our primary focus. We create a detailed plan to make sure we are putting your needs first throughout the entire process. We make changes to our strategy accordingly to take advantage of every opportunity presented throughout the process, remaining focused on your desired outcome.

Contact Brackin & Johnson Today!

We produce results by getting our clients what they are entitled to receive.

(251) 943-4040

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