What Does Expungement of a Criminal Record Mean?
Expungement in Alabama is the legal process, completed through the appropriate circuit court, by which a person’s prior criminal charges (misdemeanors, municipal ordinance violations, non-violent felonies) can be destroyed or removed from their criminal record. The main advantage of expungement is that the individual’s record will no longer be accessible for public purposes, such as employee background checks.
What is the Difference Between Record Expungement and Record Sealing?
Expungement is a complete removal and destruction of the record, erasing any evidence of past criminal charges. A sealed record still technically exists on an individual’s criminal record, but the details are concealed and are not viewable through conventional means. The only way a sealed record could be viewed is through a court order or a high level security check (such as those performed on prospective doctors, lawyers, or policemen).
Why Should I Expunge My Record?
The main reason a person would petition for expungement would be to clear his/her record of any prior arrests or criminal charges for things like: grad school applications, employee background checks, loan applications, housing, insurance, etc. Tarnished criminal records can ultimately slow or prevent your advancement through life in many ways, so it’s best to take the opportunity for a clean slate and expunge your record as soon as possible.
Can My Auburn University Student Conduct Record Be Expunged?
Yes. It is little known that Auburn recently enacted a rule that in certain circumstances allows for expungement of any records regarding student conduct violations, which otherwise would appear on any official transcript sent to graduate schools, prospective employers, and scholarship applications. In order for a student to be eligible for expungement, a written request must be made during their graduating semester (or after). According to the Auburn Code of Student Conduct, This letter should include “what they (the student) have learned from the incident, how their behavior has changed since the incident and any steps taken to address the behavior.” If the student has committed more than one conduct violation, it is unlikely that their record can be expunged, but the ultimate decision is entirely at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct. An expunged record will be kept by the university according with rules set in place by Title IX, but other than that, an expunged student record cannot be released to anyone unless legally required.
The Auburn Code of Student Conduct States, “A student may, during the semester of their graduation or thereafter, request in writing that their disciplinary record be expunged. In order for their record to be evaluated for possible expungement, the student must demonstrate that he/she has applied to graduate by submitting a copy of the approved application for graduation or a signed letter from the student’s academic advisor confirming that the student is eligible. In the written request, the student should include what they have learned from the incident, how their behavior has changed since the incident and any steps taken to address the behavior. Generally, the student record will not be expunged if the record includes more than one violation of the Code of Student Conduct, sanction(s) that were not completed by the required deadline, an incident resulting in personal injury, property damage, providing alcohol to minors, possession and/or distribution of drugs, violation of the weapons policy, disorderly conduct, sexual misconduct, discrimination, harassment, criminal behavior or suspension/expulsion. Expungement decisions shall be made at the sole discretion of the Director of Student Conduct. An expunged record will not be released except as required by law but will be maintained internally according to the guidelines listed in XI.A. In addition, reports and/or other correspondences maintained by other university departments, local and/or campus police, or another reporting agency are not subject to this expungement policy. Additionally, previous disciplinary record checks reported by the Office of Student Conduct or another university department will not be affected by this process.”
What Are the Steps of Expunging a Criminal Record?
The process of expunging your criminal record takes several months to complete, and requires the filing of a petition for expungement to the appropriate circuit court. Before the petition can be filed, however, there are a series of steps that must be followed, which include: obtaining a background check from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, preparing a petition for expungement, filing the petition and background check together in the appropriate court, and notifying of the prosecution of the petition. Only after these steps are completed can the order be entered by the Court for the expungement process to begin.
How Does the Court Decide Whether to Expunge My Record?
There is a list of 10 factors provided by Alabama Code §15-27-5 which the court will take into consideration to decide whether to grant your expungement.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get My Record Expunged?
Technically, an individual can file a petition for expungement on their own, though it is not recommended. Expungement is a complicated technical process involving a series of detailed procedures which must be completed accurately in order to be considered by the Court. An attorney with experience in criminal defense will have the expertise needed to file the petition accurately and follow up with the Court’s requirements, which will help to ensure that your petition is accepted and that the process runs smoothly.
How Much Will It Cost to Get my Record Expunged?
There is a $300 filing fee for each individual case that you wish to be expunged. So, if you have multiple charges you wish to have erased, you will pay a separate filing fee for each one. Besides the filing fee and a $25 charge to receive your background check from the ALEA, the other costs will be whatever is charged by your attorney for preparing and filing the Petition.
How Long Will It Take to Get My Record Expunged?
This depends partially on how your case was resolved. If your case was dismissed with prejudice, you can file for expungement immediately, but if your case was dismissed without prejudice, you may have to wait two years before the process can begin. Once the process is started, however, it will take 4-6 months to complete.
Will There Be a Hearing to Get My Record Expunged?
Possibly. After your petition is filed, the district attorney or alleged victims have up to 45 days to file an objection to your expungement. If a written objection is filed within this period, the Court will schedule a hearing. If no objection is filed, the Court will have enough information to make a ruling, and no hearing will take place.
Can I Get My Record Expunged If I Have Unpaid Fines, Fees, Or Restitutions?
No. Any court costs, restitution, fees, or fines must be paid off entirely before an order can be issued to expunge your record.
Can Criminal Convictions Be Expunged?
No. Only non-felony or non-violent felony charges which resulted in a non-conviction are eligible to be expunged. Examples of eligible cases include instances such as: dismissal with or without prejudice, dismissal after completion of a drug court or pretrial diversion program, or any arrangement or plea which resulted in a non-conviction.