Expunction of a Criminal Record in North Carolina

A criminal conviction can cause great headache and give rise to lifelong barriers in an individual’s life. Criminal records can prevent an individual from obtaining gainful employment, affordable housing, stable relationships, and more. Despite having served and completed the court-imposed sentence, so long as the defendant’s criminal record remains, so too does their debt to society. The civil disabilities faced by a convicted criminal can range in severity based upon the characteristics of the crime.

In North Carolina, an expunction is the destruction of a criminal record by court order, which effectively restores a defendant to the status they occupied prior to their conviction. Some people with criminal convictions are eligible for expungement and others are eligible for certificates of relief.

Legislative Changes to North Carolina’s Expunction Eligibility and Procedure

In July of 2017, Governor Roy Cooper signed Session Law 2017-195. Most notably, the act expands the availability of relief for convicted criminals in two ways:

  1. It reduces the waiting period to expunge older non-violent felony and misdemeanor convictions; and
  2. It allows an individual to obtain an expunction of a dismissal regardless of whether the individual received any prior expunctions.

The tradeoff for this expansion is the ability of prosecutors to review information about expunctions and use such information to calculate prior record level at sentencing if the individual is convicted of a subsequent criminal offense. This portion of the act applies only to expunctions granted on or after July 1, 2018. This means if an individual received an expunction before July 1, 2018, that expunction is not reviewable and subsequently cannot be used to calculate prior record level.

Expanded Expunction Eligibility

The following additions were made through the signing of Session Law 2017-195:

  • The wait period for expunction of a nonviolent felony under G.S. 15A-145.5 was reduced from 15 years to 10 years.
  • The wait period for expunction of a nonviolent misdemeanor under G.S. 15A145.5 was reduced from 15 years to 5 years.
  • If an individual has not been convicted of a felony offense, they are eligible to expunge all dismissed and “not guilty” charges. The “same term of court” and “same 12 month” requirements for the expunction of more than one charge under G.S. 15A-146 was eliminated.
  • An individual may expunge dismissed charges and charges disposed “not guilty” multiple times. The “no prior expunction” criterion for expunction of a dismissed/not guilty charge under G.S. 15A-146 was eliminated.
The Process of Expungement

At Arnold & Smith Attorneys, PLLC we help clients determine whether they are eligible for expungement. Based upon the facts of their case, our attorneys ascertain the specific type of expunction our client is eligible for and the required process of filing their petition. This is important because each type of expunction has a specific petition form. In addition, each county has its own set of rules and procedures pertaining to the filing of a petition for expunction. The process for petitioning for expunction of a criminal record is extremely technical and complex. It’s important to have an experienced attorney review your case and file a petition for expunction on your behalf.

Depending on the county the expunction was filed and the type of expunction, a hearing may or may not be held. For some expunctions, the judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the client has a “good character.” For other types of expunctions, the judge might decide without a hearing, based on a review of the record. If an order for expunction is granted, the clerk of court erases the Automated Criminal/Infractions System (ACIS) entry and then delivers a certified copy of the order to the NC Administrative Office of the Courts. Certified copies of the order are also delivered to the other interested agencies, thereby effectively erasing the client’s criminal record from any and all government databases.

Contact Our Charlotte Expungement Lawyers Today

At Arnold & Smith Attorneys, PLLC our criminal defense lawyers help people throughout the greater Charlotte area. If you have been convicted of a low-level, non-violent felony conviction, or a non-violent misdemeanor, you could benefit from speaking to an expungement attorney. Erasing a conviction from your record can impact your future, and the future of those you love, for the better. Our lawyers will examine your criminal record. We will determine whether the type of conviction, your age at conviction, and the level of the offense qualify for a North Carolina expunction. If you qualify for an expunction, our legal team can guide you through the process.

Contact our experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to receive a case review. Call our office at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.