How will it work?
During the Alabama expungement process, a petition has to be filed with the circuit court in the location the charge was filed.
The petition has to include:
- A sworn statement that the person meets the expungement requirements;
- A case action summary or certified copy of arrest and disposition;
- A certified copy of the arrest record from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center;
- Description of the charges to be considered for removal and description of the agencies involved in the arrest and any incarceration;
- The filing fee is $300 plus any court costs;
- All court fees, restitutions, fines and fees have been paid.
Who has to be notified?
A copy of the petition submitted to the circuit court also has to be provided to the district attorney’s office, the law enforcement agency and the clerk of court.
The DA’s office is expected to review the petition and make an effort to notify any victims in the case.
Can the request be opposed?
The DA’s office and the victims have 45 days to file a petition opposing the expungement. If the objection is filed, the court is to set a hearing date at least 14 days after the filing.
What if nobody objects?
The court can review the petition and rule without a hearing.
Section 15-27-3 Submission of sworn statement and records; service.
(a) A petition filed under this chapter shall include a sworn statement made by the person seeking expungement under the penalty of perjury stating that the person has satisfied the requirements set out in this chapter and whether he or she has previously applied for an expungement in any jurisdiction and whether an expungement has been previously granted.
(b) The petitioner shall include a certified record of arrest, disposition, or the case action summary from the appropriate agency for the court record the petitioner seeks to have expunged as well as a certified official criminal record obtained from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. In addition to setting forth grounds for the court to consider, the petitioner shall specify what criminal charges from the record are to be considered, further specify the agency or department that made the arrest and any agency or department where the petitioner was booked or was incarcerated or detained pursuant to the arrest or charge sought to be expunged.
(c) A petitioner shall serve the district attorney, the law enforcement agency, and clerk of court of the jurisdiction for which the records are sought to be expunged, a copy of the petition, and the sworn affidavit. The district attorney shall review the petition and may make reasonable efforts to notify the victim if the petition has been filed seeking an expungement under circumstances enumerated in paragraph a. of subdivision (4) of Section 15-27-2 involving a victim that is not a governmental entity. The district attorney and the victim shall have a period of 45 days to file a written objection to the granting of the petition or the district attorney shall be deemed to have waived the right to object. The district attorney shall serve the petitioner or the petitioner’s counsel a copy of the written objection.
(Act 2014-292, §3.)
Administrative filing fee; indigency.
(a) In addition to any cost of court or docket fee for filing the petition in circuit court, an administrative filing fee of three hundred dollars ($300) shall be paid at the time the petition is filed and is a condition precedent to any ruling of the court pursuant to this chapter. The administrative filing fee shall not be waived by the court and shall be distributed as follows:
(1) Seventy-five dollars ($75) to the State Judicial Administrative Fund.
(2) Twenty-five dollars ($25) to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.
(3) Fifty dollars ($50) to the district attorney’s office.
(4) Fifty dollars ($50) to the clerk’s office of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the matter, for the use and benefit of the circuit court clerk.
(5) Fifty dollars ($50) to the Public Safety Fund.
(6) Fifty dollars ($50) to the general fund of the county where the arresting law enforcement agency is located if the arrest was made by the sheriff’s office to be used for law enforcement purposes, or, if the arrest was made by another law enforcement agency, to the municipality or other entity or state agency funding the law enforcement activity.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person seeking relief under this chapter may apply for indigent status by completing an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and Order which shall be submitted with the petition. If the court finds the petitioner is indigent, the court may set forth a payment plan for the petitioner to satisfy the filing fee over a period of time, which shall be paid in full, prior to any order granting an expungement.
(c) If a petitioner seeks expungement of an arrest record and the court in the original case made a clear and unequivocal judicial finding on the record that the arrest had no foundation of probable cause, the court, in the expungement proceeding, shall waive all docket fees and court costs, except for the filling fee in subsection (a).
(Act 2014-292, §4.)
Section 15-27-5 Objections; hearing; ruling.
(a) If the prosecuting authority or victim files an objection to the granting of a petition under this chapter, the court having jurisdiction over the matter shall set a date for a hearing no sooner than 14 days from the filing of the objection. The court shall notify the prosecuting authority and the petitioner of the hearing date. In the discretion of the court, the court shall consider the following factors:
(1) Nature and seriousness of the offense committed.
(2) Circumstances under which the offense occurred.
(3) Date of the offense.
(4) Age of the person when the offense was committed.
(5) Whether the offense was an isolated or repeated incident.
(6) Other conditions which may have contributed to the offense.
(7) An available probation or parole record, report, or recommendation.
(8) Whether the offense was dismissed or nolle prossed as part of a negotiated plea agreement and the petitioner plead guilty to another related or lesser offense.
(9) 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.
(10) Any other matter the court deems relevant, which may include, but is not limited to, a prior expungement of the petitioner’s records.
(b) A hearing under subsection (a) shall be conducted in a manner prescribed by the trial judge and shall include oral argument and review of relevant documentation in support of, or in objection to, the granting of the petition. The Alabama Rules of Evidence shall apply to the hearing. Leave of the court shall be obtained for the taking of witness testimony relating to any disputed fact.
(c) There is no right to the expungement of any criminal record, and any request for expungement of a criminal record may be denied at the sole discretion of the court. The court shall grant the petition if it is reasonably satisfied from the evidence that the petitioner has complied with and satisfied the requirements of this chapter. The court shall have discretion over the number of cases that may be expunged pursuant to this chapter after the first case is expunged. The ruling of the court shall be subject to certiorari review and shall not be reversed absent a showing of an abuse of discretion.
(d) If no objection to a petition is filed by the prosecuting authority or victim, the court having jurisdiction over the matter may rule on the merits of the petition without setting the matter for hearing. In such cases, the court shall grant the petition if it is reasonably satisfied from the evidence that the petitioner has complied with and satisfied the requirements of this chapter. The court shall have discretion over the number of cases that may be expunged pursuant to this chapter after the first case is expunged.
(Act 2014-292, §5.)
Order of expungement; certification; inspection of expunged records.
(a) Except as provided in Section 15-27-10, upon the granting of a petition pursuant to this chapter, the court, pursuant to Section 15-27-9, shall order the expungement of all records in the custody of the court and any records in the custody of any other agency or official, including law enforcement records, except privileged presentence or postsentence investigation reports produced by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and its officers, records, documents, databases, and files of the district attorney and the Office of Prosecution Services. On July 7, 2014, and for 18 months thereafter, every agency with records relating to the arrest, charge, or other matters arising out of the arrest or charge that is ordered to expunge the records shall certify to the court within 180 days of the entry of the expungement order that the required expungement action has been completed.
(b) After the expungement of records pursuant to subsection (a), the proceedings regarding the charge shall be deemed never to have occurred. Except as provided in this chapter, the court and other agencies shall reply to any inquiry that no record exists on the matter. The petitioner whose record was expunged shall not have to disclose the fact of the record or any matter relating thereto on an application for employment, credit, or other type of application. However, the petitioner whose record was expunged shall have the duty to disclose the fact of the record and any matter relating thereto to any government regulatory or licensing agency, any utility and its agents and affiliates, or any bank or other financial institution. In these circumstances, the government regulatory or licensing agency, utility and its agents and affiliates, or the bank or other financial institution shall have the right to inspect the expunged records after filing notice with the court.
(Act 2014-292, §6.)
Section 15-27-9 Records.
For purposes of this chapter, the term record includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Arrest records.
(2) Booking or arrest photographs of the petitioner.
(3) Index references such as the State Judicial Information System or any other governmental index references for public records search.
(4) Other data, whether in documentary or electronic form, relating to the arrest or charge.
(Act 2014-292, §9.)
Section 15-27-11 Personal information subject to expungement.
An order of expungement, pursuant to this chapter may include, but is not limited to, the petitioner’s true name, all aliases, current physical address, date of birth, Social Security number, or any other vital identifier sufficient to notify the record keeper of the records to be expunged.
(Act 2014-292, §11.)
Section 15-27-12 Prerequisites to expungement.
No order of expungement shall be granted unless all terms and conditions, including court ordered restitution, are satisfied and paid in full, including interest, to any victim, or the Alabama Crime Victim’s Compensation Commission, as well as court costs, fines, or statutory fees ordered by the sentencing court to have been paid, absent a finding of indigency by the court.
(Act 2014-292, §12.)