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How To Find Criminal Records In Alabama

According to the Alabama Open Records Law, all records maintained by public officers in Alabama are public records. This includes all criminal records in the state. As such, Alabama criminal records are public records that can be requested by interested persons. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is the body that maintains and issues copies of criminal records to interested members of the public.

What Is Included In a Criminal Record In Alabama?

Alabama criminal records are official documents containing information on the violations for which a person was arrested, charged, prosecuted, entered a plea, convicted, or sentenced. It also provides details on the offenses for which a person was acquitted or dismissed. Typically, Alabama criminal records contain:

  • The offender’s first, middle, and last name
  • The date of birth 
  • The offenses committed and the laws that were violated.
  • Physical description of the offender, including race, sex, height, eye and hair color, etc.
  • Pending charges
  • Dismissed or acquitted charges

How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Alabama?

The Alabama Law enforcement Agency (ALEA) is the central repository for Alabama criminal records. To get a copy of a record, complete the ALEA Application to Review Alabama Criminal History Record Information (CHRI). This application must be notarized or signed by two witnesses. Attach an administrative fee of $25.00 in the form of a cashier’s check or money order, a classifiable set of fingerprints, and a copy of valid photo identification. Note that each additional copy costs $5.00. These are the only acceptable forms of identification:

  • A valid United States state-issued photo driver license or photo ID (non-driver) card that is unexpired
  • An unexpired valid United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Document
  • An unexpired valid United States Passport
  • An unexpired valid Foreign Passport that meets the following requirements
  • It must contain a Valid United States Visa or I–94 to be used as a main proof of identification; or
  • If not issued in English, it must be translated and accompanied by a Certificate of Accurate Translation.

Note also that the set of fingerprints must be taken by an authorized law enforcement agency that has an FBI-issued Originating Agency Number (ORI). As such, the fingerprints should be provided on an official FBI-approved “Applicant” fingerprint card or an FBI-approved Automated Fingerprint Identification System printout of an official “Applicant” fingerprint card, i.e., FBI blue card.

To request for an FBI fingerprint applicant card, the law enforcement agency may contact the FBI Customer Service Group, CJIS Division Biometric Section at (304) 625–5590 or by e-mail at identity@ic.fbi.gov. Ensure that the completed fingerprint card contains the name and ORI of the agency, as well as the applicant’s name and phone number. Submit the application form and the necessary documents in person at 301 S. Ripley Street, Montgomery, AL 36104 (Adams Ave side), or by mail to:

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency 

Criminal Records and Identification Unit 

ATTN: Background Checks

PO. Box 1511

Montgomery, Alabama 36102–1511

Eligible third parties may also search for Alabama criminal records on the Alabama Background Check System. Users of the website must subscribe annually to access the online database. The cost of the subscription is $95.00.

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Alabama?

There are no provisions for obtaining criminal records for free in Alabama. Eligible persons can obtain a copy of these records by mail or in person from the Alabama Law enforcement Agency (ALEA) for a fee of $25. An online application for Alabama criminal records, on the other hand, costs $15. This is asides from the $95 fee required to subscribe to the Alabama Background Check System.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In Alabama?

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency provides the Alabama Background Check System, where eligible employers can find Alabama criminal records. The website requires users to subscribe annually for a fee of $95 to access any criminal record. To subscribe to the Alabama Background Check System, sign and submit the subscription agreement, and provide the following details:

  • The company information
  • The number of employees
  • The company’s Federal Employer Identification Number
  • The contact information of the company
  • Authorizing official details
  • Payment information (credit card number and corporate checking information including routing and account number)

After subscribing, users can log in to the website using the username and password. Note that each search conducted on the website attracts a fee of $15.00.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Alabama?

Alabama law allows for the expunging of certain Alabama criminal records under specific conditions. Under Alabama Code § 15–27–1, a misdemeanor, municipal ordinance, or a traffic violation may be expunged if any of the following criteria are met:

  • A grand jury no-billed the charge.
  • The charge was dismissed with prejudice.
  • The court found the defendant not guilty of the charge.
  • The court dismissed the charge without prejudice more than two years ago, has not been refiled, and the petitioner has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony crime, traffic violation, or violation, apart from minor traffic violations within the previous two years

Pursuant to Alabama Code § 15–27–2, it is possible to expunge non-violent felony charges. Such records may be eligible for expungement if:

  • The court dismissed the charge with prejudice. 
  • A grand jury no-billed the charge
  • The defendant was found not guilty of the charge
  • The charge was dismissed after the petitioner completed a drug court program, diversion program, mental health court program, veteran’s court, diversion program, or any court-approved deferred prosecution program, and more than one year has elapsed since the completion of the program
  • The court dismissed the charge without prejudice more than five years ago, the charge was not refiled, and the applicant has not been convicted of any other misdemeanor or felony crime, traffic violation, violation, excluding minor traffic offenses, during the previous five years
  • Ninety days have elapsed since the date of dismissal with prejudice, acquittal, no-bill, or nolle prosequi and the charge has not been refiled

A qualified petitioner may file for the expungement of an Alabama criminal record in the Circuit Court of the county where the charge was originally filed. Complete a Petition for Expungement of Records form and file at the appropriate court. Note that an applicant may request for expungement for one charge per petition. Therefore, ensure to specify the charge through submitting the certified documents. The documents to be submitted with the petition include an ALEA certified criminal history record and any of the following:

  • A certified record of arrest from the relevant law enforcement agency
  • A certified record of the disposition from the appropriate court
  • A certified record of the case action summary from the appropriate court 

If the court grants the petition for the expungement of Alabama criminal records, every agency that keeps a record that is connected to the expunged charge forwards the records to the ALEA. The ALEA then destroys the physical records, and as such, the expunged record is no more a part of the petitioner’s official criminal history record purposes for public purposes.

Also, after the criminal record is expunged, the subject of the records is not obliged to disclose that fact when applying for employment, credit, or any other type of application. However, the subject must disclose any government regulatory or licensing agency, bank or other financial institution, or any utility and its agents and affiliates.

According to Alabama Code § 15–27–4, the petitioner, when filing the petition for expungement, must pay an administrative fee of $300 in addition to any docket fee or cost of court. The administrative fee is to be distributed as follows:

  • $75 to the State Judicial Administrative Fund
  • $25 to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences
  • $50 to the clerk’s office of the Circuit Court
  • $50 to the district attorney’s office
  • $50 to the Public Safety Fund
  • $50 to the relevant county’s general fund

Despite this, an indigent Alabama citizen may apply for indigent status by filing an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and Order. Submit the affidavit along with the petition for expungement. If the court finds the petitioner indigent, it may set out a payment plan for the petitioner to pay the filing fee over a period of time. The fee must, however, be paid in full before the court grants the order for expungement.

The court may, however, waive all court costs and docket fees if the court in the original trial found that the arrest had no foundation of probable cause. The petitioner, nonetheless, still has to pay the $300 administrative fee. 

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In Alabama?

Adult Alabama criminal records that involve convictions can neither be sealed nor expunged under Alabama law. Juvenile records, on the other hand, can be sealed under Alabama Code § 12–15–136. To be eligible to seal Alabama juvenile records, the petitioner must prove that:

  • Two years have passed since either the final discharge of the petitioner from legal custody or any other final order of the court not involving supervision or custody.
  • The petitioner has no pending charge of any felony or misdemeanor involving drugs, weapons, violence, or sexual offenses.
  • The petitioner has not been adjudicated delinquent or a youthful offender of any misdemeanor or felony involving weapons, drugs, violence, or sexual offenses.

If eligible to seal Alabama juvenile records, file a motion to seal the juvenile records with the relevant court. If the court grants the petition, the case proceedings and records are sealed and are inaccessible to the public. However, a clinic, hospital, or agency which has the subject of the sealed record under care, may access the sealed criminal record by order of the court.

Also, if the subject of the sealed record is subsequently convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving sexual offenses, weapons, drugs, or violence, or threats of violence, the sealing order becomes automatically nullified.

Who Can See My Expunged/Sealed Criminal Record In Alabama?

Once a court grants an order for the expungement of an Alabama criminal record, criminal justice agencies with such a record forward it to the ALEA. However, a district attorney or prosecutor, law enforcement official or agency, the Department of Human Resources, or the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences may keep an investigative file, case file, report or log on the expunged charge. Nonetheless, such information may not be disclosed for a non-criminal justice purpose. Therefore, the expunged criminal record may still be accessed by:

  • Criminal justice agencies investigative purposes or for any other criminal matters involving the subject of the expunged record
  • Government licensing or regulatory agencies, banks, and other financial institutions after filing a notice with the court
  • Law enforcement agencies when the subject is applying for a position
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