A felony expungement occurs when an offender who is convicted of a felony successfully petitions the court for an expungement of the felony from his or her criminal record. According to Alabama law, a felony expungement is
"the process, by which a record of arrest, conviction, or both, is deleted, legally destroyed, sealed, purged, obliterated, or erased by state statute or by inherent judicial authority in files, computers, and other depositories relating to a criminal charge."
The Bill goes on to note that "The effect of an expungement is that the criminal record is erased and legally deemed not to have occurred."
The law in Rhode Island, to take one example, allows offenders to ask to have their felony struck from their record after five years has passed since the conviction. A recent bill in 2002, however, reduced this waiting time by half, which would treat the expungement of the felony with equal severity to an expungement of a misdemeanour.
In early 2008, New Orleans Parish public defender's office sponsored an "Expungement Day" to help local community residents with advice concerning the removal of old charges from their criminal records. One woman, Consulleo Anderson, made headlines after being fired from her seniors' care position for a 25 year-old theft conviction that popped up on a routine criminal records check. Furthermore, Anderson argued that her felony was a borderline one, at best: her son took a physician's lamp on her way out of the doctor's office and she forgot to return it to the hospital.
As of 2002 in New Orleans, felony expungement cost $325.
Louisiana law allows only one felony expungement in one's lifetime.
Alabama law requires the individual filing for a felony expungement order to actually be convicted of the felony. For example, the charge must not have been overturned, reversed, set aside, or annulled, or left un-prosecuted or dismissed.
A felony expungement in general covers most criminal offences, as well as traffic violations and municipal ordinance violations. Certain non-violent crimes are not permitted to be expunged from the felon's record.
What is specifically removed from the offender's record is the arrest record, the case action summaries, photographs, fingerprints, and index references relating to the arrest, charge, and conviction.