Expungement of Criminal Charges Measure Approved

Those accused but not convicted of certain criminal offenses could have their records cleared under a measure approved by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley.

The bill was approved by the Senate and the House. The measure goes into effect in July 2014, 90 days after the governor signed it into law. Gov. Bentley signed the bill on April 7, 2014. 1207445_courtroom_2

Defendants who are found not guilty, or who have had charges dropped, could petition the circuit court to erase their criminal record. Only those accused of certain non-violent crimes would be eligible, according to Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa.

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham is the first step in the fight to keep your criminal record clean, regardless of whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. But the fact remains that the state can charge you with whatever it wants. And, while what matters most is whether you are convicted in court, in today’s electronic world proof of your arrest or prosecution may be all that’s necessary for exonerated defendants to feel the discrimination known all too well by those convicted.

With court records, arrest records, and even mugshots available online, those who’ve had a brush with the law deserve to put it behind them. At least 45 states have some form of expungement of criminal records. The Anniston Star reports the measure had previously passed the Senate after a number of compromises. Those included a provision to leave expunged records available for inspection by police and to ban some accused of violent crimes from having their records expunged even if there is no conviction.

In some cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham may be able to help prevent charges from being filed. This is particularly true when clients reach out from the earliest stages of an investigation. But, once charges are filed, the task becomes avoiding conviction and mitigating the consequences. Having a criminal record can result in a wide range of social and legal consequences, including:

  • Employment: Even having an arrest record can result in discrimination when it comes to hiring decisions. In fact, employment discrimination and cases of mistaken identify were two of the primary examples cited by Alabama’s expungement proposal. A conviction will often preclude you from working in many occupations. Even a DUI can be a barrier to entering many career fields.
  • Social Consequences: A criminal record can also have a host of social consequences, ranging from dating issues to qualifying for an apartment. Loss of a driver’s license, employment discrimination and other consequences also exact a hidden economic toll.
  • Sentencing Enhancements: Particularly in the event of a conviction, an old criminal charge can have a drastic impact on potential sentencing in the event of a subsequent arrest or conviction.

Facing criminal charges in Alabama is a serious matter. Seeking the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney is always advisable at the earliest possible stage.

Contact Barclay Law at 866-584-1023 or visit http://www.jmbarclaylaw.com to schedule a consultation with a criminal lawyer in Birmingham. Serving South Side, Titusville, Red Mountain, Woodlawn, Ensley and surrounding areas.

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