There is a ton of buzz regarding Alabama’s new expungement law, particularly the provisions making some of those who have felony convictions eligible for expungement. We have been and continue to field lots of calls from people interested in pursuing pardons and then expungements under the new law.
While the new law sounds good in theory, in practice things are a bit more complicated.
Under the new law, a person who has been convicted of a felony offense (and not all felony offenses are eligible) first must obtain a pardon from the State of Alabama prior to becoming eligible for expungement.
But wait there’s more….
Not just any pardon will do. The statute requires that the pardon be a full pardon with restoration of rights. This sounds simple until you realize that the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles is granting full pardons with restoration of rights less and less frequently.
Here at Skier & Associates, we keep regular tabs on the actions taken by the Parole Board, even in cases we are not involved with. We have seen a disturbing trend lately of the Board granting only partial pardons, and reserving issues such as gun rights or relief from the Habitual Offender Act. Under these circumstances, these partial pardons may not be viewed by a court as qualifying for expungement even under the new law.
Our advice to those wanting to start the process in order to become eligible for expungement of a felony is to apply for a pardon now, and let the Board know that part of the reason for the pardon is in hopes of applying for expungement. Only time will tell how the Board will react to these requests, but the law now puts extra emphasis on convincing the Parole Board that a person is deserving not only a pardon, but a full pardon in order to secure their future.