Thursday, March 5, 2009

Alabama Senate Bill 475 - Expunge Criminal Record when Found Not Guilty

This bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee pending committee action. From the ALISON Database you expand the Bills drop down, then expand the Search drop down and then select Keyword and enter SB475 (no spaces between SB and 475). From the synopsis, Senate Bill 475 goes as follows...
"Existing law does not authorize the criminal arrest record related to a charge to be expunged if the person is found not guilty of the charge, or if the charge is dismissed or not prosecuted, thus resulting in a non-conviction. Also, existing law does not authorize the criminal arrest record and criminal conviction record related to a charge to be expunged if the person was convicted of and pardoned for certain non-violent offenses, or if the conviction was overturned, reversed, set aside, annulled, or vacated by the court having jurisdiction over the matter, or by an appellate court having jurisdiction over the matter.

This bill would provide for a person charged or convicted, or both, of certain criminal offenses, a traffic violation, or a municipal ordinance violation, to petition the court having jurisdiction over the matter in which the charges were filed or in which the conviction occurred, to have court records expunged, including, but not limited to, arrest records, case action summaries, fingerprints, photographs, or index references in documentary or electronic form, relating to the arrest, charge, or both, and conviction, in certain instances; would provide the procedure for a criminal record expungement and for certain fees; would provide limited circumstances in which a criminal justice agency, a law enforcement agency, or a third party could access the expunged record; and would provide penalties for violations.

Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 111.05 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, prohibits a general law whose purpose or effect would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds from becoming effective with regard to a local governmental entity without enactment by a 2/3 vote unless: it comes within one of a number of specified exceptions; it is approved by the affected entity; or the Legislature appropriates funds, or provides a local source of revenue, to the entity for the purpose.

The purpose or effect of this bill would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of the amendment. However, the bill does not require approval of a local governmental entity or enactment by a 2/3 vote to become effective because it comes within one of the specified exceptions contained in the amendment."

This bill has been introduced by Senator Rodger Mell Smitherman - (D) President Pro Tempore and representing Jefferson county.

This one looks and feels pretty good but just seems to smell bad. It appears that if you are charged with a crime and then found not guilty and/or are pardoned, you will still have to discuss this every time you go to purchase a firearm or apply for a concealed carry permit. This one needs to either be amended or be ignored in committee. In order to locate this bit of information, just find the bill in ALISON Database and search keyword Firearm when you are viewing the bill.

Get in touch with the Senate Judiciary Committee and let them know what you think. I think that if you are not guilty... you are not guilty period, no more discussion.

There is more commentary here posted 07 March 2009.


  1. There's no question that there needs to be reform with Alabama's record laws. There are plenty of states that don't offer expungement for a conviction but Alabama and Arizona are the only two that don't offer it for dismissed charges. Basically, anyone that had it out for you could file charges against you for just to defile your record. Even though it may not even go to court, and you may not have been at fault in any way, you are stuck with it. Hope that they finally realize the detrimental effects of their actions back in 2006.

  2. Brian, I could not agree more. It just chaps me that they would exempt anything... and it figures that it would be firearms.

    Again... mostly because I cannot help myself... if you are not guilty, you are not guilty... no further discussion.

  3. What is the current status?