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.