Sealed vs. Expunged
Interviewer: What’s the difference, first of all, between something being sealed and something being expunged?
Brett Hollett: In Alabama, the only records that can be sealed right now are records of a juvenile or records of someone who’s been granted youthful offender status. The act itself says that if your record is expunged, the proceeding regarding the charge shall be deemed to never have occurred. It’s, again, a mechanism for any other individual who’s not a juvenile or hasn’t been granted the special status of youthful offender to have their record wiped out.
Interviewer: For the record, an expungement is a permanent solution, right?
Brett Hollett: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Can it be reversed?
Brett Hollett: No. It is a permanent solution. Like I said, it’ll help wipe people’s records clean. I’ve said it before. The actual language, word for word, in the statute says, “The proceedings regarding the charge shall be deemed to never have occurred.” It’s pretty strong language.
Interviewer: How long would someone have to wait before they can get that taken care of or expunged?
Brett Hollett: There are certain stipulations.
If ninety days have passed from the date of dismissal with prejudice, acquittal, nol pross, a grand jury no billed the charges or if the person has been found not guilty.
If one year has passed since the charge was dismissed after successful completion of a pretrial diversion program like drug court, dui deferred court, mental health court, or veteran’s court.
If two years have passed since the misdemeanor charge was dismissed without prejudice and the charge has not been refiled.
If five years have passed since the felony charge was dismissed without prejudice and the charge has not been refiled.
Interviewer: What’s the fee for an expungement? How much does it cost?
Brett Hollett: That’ll require a $300 filing fee and then any other court costs that may be applied.
Interviewer: Do all the court fees and restitution have to have been paid before you can expunge them?
Brett Hollett: The way the bill is written here in Alabama, expungement is only for people who have been charged with an offense. That offense would either have been dismissed for some reason, a grand jury returned a no-bill, or the person was found not guilty. Thus, there wouldn’t be any restitution on those types of cases anyway. The bill as written does not provide a mechanism at this time for people that have been convicted of a crime.
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