Filing a Petition for Expungement

Interviewer: Once I’ve filed a petition, is there a chance that it could be denied or opposed?

Brett Hollett: There is. Like I said, you would file a petition with the Circuit Court and in the petition you would have to include a sworn statement verifying you have met certain requirements. The person must also include a case action summary with a certified record of arrest, records from your case disposition and a certified copy of an arrest record from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, as well as a description of the charges that you wish to be considered for removal.

Then, once the court gets the petition, you also have an obligation to notify the district attorney’s office and the law enforcement agency that initially arrested you, so the D.A. at that point in time has an opportunity to review the petition and he has 45 days to file a petition opposing the expungement. If he does so within 45 days, the court has an option of setting a hearing at least 14 days after the filing of the D.A.’s objection. However, if the D.A. can’t get in touch with the victim or the D.A. talks to the victim and nobody objects, then the court can review the petition and rule on its merits without a hearing.

Interviewer: What are all the records associated with a charge that can get expunged?

Brett Hollett: It’s basically everything. It’s booking reports. It’s arrest records, booking or arrest photographs. Indexes of references in the state and federal judicial information system and any other data that would relate to the arrest or charge would be wiped clean.

Potential Issues or Barriers

Interviewer: What foreseeable issues may someone face? If they’re trying to get their record expunged, what are some barriers that they may be facing?

Brett Hollett: Like I said, individuals are going to have to meet certain time requirements and they are going to have to ensure they have requested all the proper documents. Additionally, they’re going to have to make sure they have the sworn statement that meets the requirements of the act. They’re going to have to get certified copies of their arrest from different law enforcement agencies in the state and provide all that along with their petition in a timely manner to the Circuit Court to have their petition even heard.

Interviewer: For whatever reason, if my right to own a firearm was suspended or taken away, if I ever get it expunged, will I be able to get my rights returned?

Brett Hollett: Yes, but again we’re talking about arrest records, not convictions. The only time you would typically lose the right to a firearm would be if you’re convicted of domestic violence or some other crime. An expungement, though, may help you. There are certain immigration statutes that may help you with that because I know people are looked upon differently even if they’re applying for immigration status if they’ve ever been charged with an offense. It could help with immigration, but you’d have to basically address that as well.

Interviewer: With immigration, I know that’s going to bring up different matters because from what I understand, if someone has been charged with something, they may be facing some legal issues in regard to deportation and things like that. Is there going to be some sort of way that they can get this done faster?

Brett Hollett: No, not that I know of right now. However, I’m not an immigration attorney and would advise anyone with immigration questions to contact an immigration attorney.

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