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After several previous unsuccessful attempts by various legislators and the criminal defense bar, something rather remarkable occurred in the 2014 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. While a previous version of a legislation suffered the fate of a pocket veto at the hands of former governor Bob Riley, Governor Robert Bentley actually signed Senate Bill 108 in April of this year, that provides for the expungement of a broad variety, though not all types, of criminal charges, from one’s personal criminal history. The four(4) major categories of felony charges that may be purged from an individual’s criminal history include those that were: 1)dismissed with prejudice; 2)“no-billed” by a grand jury; 3)disposed of by a jury verdict of acquittal; and 4)guilty pleas that were entered in order for acceptance into a diversion or deferred prosecution program such as those found in a drug, mental health or veterans court. There are also various misdemeanor offense charges that may be expunged under this legislation.

While someone’s criminal history as a juvenile or youthful offender under state law is generally not supposed to be available to the public, criminal charges and prosecutions after you have become an adult can follow you indefinitely no matter how much you may have matured or, over time, become a law-abiding citizen who has paid their debt to society. In addition to the personal embarrassment, people who may have had to endure the unpleasant experience of being a defendant in a criminal case, no matter how exaggerated or meritless the charge(s) against them may have been, often suffer great financial loss, as well, even on occasions when there is relatively little evidence of their guilt or reason to have formally charged them in the first place. Moreover, such charges can potentially haunt someone for the rest of their life despite the best of efforts to continue their formal education or professional development, or advance their career in a reputable and honorable way. Nor is it hard to see what that kind of thing can do to diminish one’s future economic prospects.

Well, finally, some relief can be pursued in the courts of the State of Alabama by those who are deserving of a second chance.

If you, a friend or family member, have an interest in having an episode of poor judgment, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, expunged from public records so that you can get on with your life without the threat of something painful or embarrassing being dredged up from the past without any kind of warning, feel free to contact me to explore how you could possibly benefit from this recently enacted state legislation.