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Bill to expunge criminal records passes Alabama Senate

The Alabama Senate passed a bill this year that permits crimes to be expunged in some cases in whcih a person was charged but not convicted. A senator backing the bill explained that he has heard from a number of people whose lives are still affected by prior incidents for which they were never convicted. They have reportedly found career doors closed to them on account of their records, the senator claimed.

Prior to its passing, the bill received significant amendments and deletions from the Senate. For instance, a portion of the bill that would expunge convictions of traffic tickets or misdemeanors from an individual’s record was omitted. Moreover, an exemption to expunging for violent crimes and other serious felony charges was added.

The bill must still pass the House to become law. If it prevails, people seeking to have their records expunged would pay a fee of $600 and file a petition with the court in which the relevant charges were filed. If the prosecutor does not contest the matter, the case would be expunged. Otherwise, the court would have a hearing to determine the outcome. The bill eventually passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 26 -3.

For the most part, it is not possible in the state of Alabama to expunge an accurate arrest or charge from a criminal record. Even if an individual has competed probation for the incident, current criminal law makes expunging criminal records challenging at best. The state allows charges to be erased or sealed only in very limited circumstances. A criminal defense attorney may file a request to have a person’s criminal record wiped clean for charges that did not lead to convictions.

Source: AL.com, “Alabama Senate approves bill to allow expungement of criminal charges in certain cases“, Mike Cason, January 23, 2014

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