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Can I Get Rid of My Criminal Record in North Carolina?

Whether you are trying to gain employment in Charlotte or simply move on with your life and achieve closure, a criminal record can be a dead weight on your progress. If this is proving to be a source of stress or an unnecessary impediment to your growth, there are several potential solutions available to you. While it might not be possible to completely “get rid” of your criminal record in North Carolina, there are some steps you can take to address this issue.

First off, you should know that this process is anything but simple. Generally, things like expungements, pardons, and first-time offender programs require a great deal of effort and knowledge of the system. Expect to go through a lengthy process involving paperwork, negotiations, and a tremendous amount of patience. Because of this complex and multi-faceted process, it makes sense to seek out an attorney in Charlotte who can help you with these matters. When you find an attorney, who has experience with these situations, it becomes easier to address your criminal record in North Carolina.

Expungement

If you wish to have your record “cleaned up,” an expungement may be the best choice. After being granted an expungement, records of your criminal conviction are essentially hidden from public view. All court documents can be accessed by virtually anyone with an internet connection; this includes potential employers, romantic partners, or anyone else who might be interested in your past.

When your records are successfully expunged, they are “sealed” away from public view. After the expungement has been granted, you can even legally claim that you have never been charged with a crime in the past. With all that said, expungements are not guaranteed, and you must undergo a strict process to be eligible:

  1. Eligibility: First, you will need to work with your attorney and determine whether you are eligible for an expungement. Certain crimes are not eligible.
  2. Petition: Next, you will need to file a petition at the clerk’s office located in the county where you were charged. If you were charged in Charlotte, you will need to file your petition at the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court Criminal Department.
  3. Review: After your petition has been filed, it will be reviewed and investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation. This can take months.
  4. Judgment: After the SBI sends its findings back to the Mecklenburg Superior Court, a judge will examine your case and come to a decision. Sometimes, they will order a hearing to ask questions or make objections.
  5. Expungement: If everything goes to plan, the expungement will then be granted and your records will be sealed.
Pardons

Another option is to pursue a pardon. Unlike expungements, pardons do not seal your records from public view, and they are more like “footnotes” that are attached to your criminal records. They simply represent a note from the governor stating that you have been forgiven for your crimes. There are three different types of pardons:

  • Pardon of Forgiveness: When granted, this pardon means that you have been officially forgiven for your crimes. In most cases, you must wait a certain number of years after being released from state supervision (usually 10 years). Also, there may be certain restrictions connected with this type of pardon.
  • Pardon of Innocence: If new information has come forward that proves your innocence, you may be granted a pardon of innocence. This can help you walk free after being erroneously imprisoned.
  • Unconditional Pardon: In most cases, this type of pardon is granted to restore one’s constitutional rights - namely the right to purchase and own a firearm in Mecklenburg County.
First-Time Offender Programs

If you are in the process of being charged with a crime, a qualified attorney can help you pursue a first-time offender program in Mecklenburg County. First-time offender programs are designed to give North Carolina’s citizens a second chance, and they can allow you to avoid conviction so that your criminal record remains clean.

Typically, you will only be eligible for these programs if you are facing a misdemeanor charge. The exact details of these programs vary depending on your crimes. For example, drug diversion programs may involve drug rehab treatments over a certain period. On the other hand, an informal first offender program may involve community service over a year.

Contact Us Today

If you want to clean up your criminal record and move on with your life, we can help. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand how a criminal record can prevent you from being able to move forward with your life. Contact us today to learn how we can help. For your convenience and safety, we now offer phone and video consultations. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.