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Expungement in Mooresville, North Carolina

The reality is that no one is perfect. The best of us can make mistakes and it isn't right for one mistake, especially one that happened a long time ago, to continue haunting you for the rest of your life. Sadly, that's exactly what happens in the criminal law world, where one conviction, even if it was decades ago or for a relatively minor offense, can come back to haunt you time and time again, making it difficult to successfully re-integrate into society.

Thankfully, there is something that can be done to address this problem. For those in Mooresville, North Carolina, the expungement process exists to provide a potential fix, wiping away a stain from years ago to ensure you can move forward with a truly clean slate.

What Does Expungement Mean?

First, what is an expungement? An expungement is the process by which a person's criminal record gets wiped clean. This is valuable not only for those with criminal convictions, but also those whose cases were dismissed, as a paper trail still exists regardless. Expunging your record removes these previous incidents from official records, allowing you to officially put the events in your past. It's important to note, the rules for expungements are tricky and vary greatly depending on the nature of your previous criminal incidents. For specific answers to your questions, reach out to one of the Mooresville criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today.

What Can't Be Expunged?

There are many categories of crimes that cannot be expunged from your record. In years past, those in North Carolina were not able to get any criminal convictions expunged, only cases that had been dismissed or where the defendant was found not guilty were eligible. Though things have improved, there are still plenty of categories of offenses that are not eligible for expungement. No assault convictions, regardless of the type, can be expunged. Same goes with any convictions involving possession of methamphetamines or heroin, or those involving the sale or delivery of cocaine. Hate crimes cannot be expunged, nor can any crime involving the use of a commercial motor vehicle. Finally, no crimes that require registration under North Carolina's sex offender registry are eligible for expungement.

What Can Be Expunged?

After reading that list you might be wondering if there is anything left that can be expunged? The answer is absolutely. To be expunged, the criminal conviction must be either a misdemeanor or a level H-I felony. This is a huge list that encompasses a wide array of crimes, including drunk driving, petty theft and minor drug crimes as well as many, many others.

How Does Expungement Work?

First, to secure an expungement you need to be sure that you have had no other convictions besides traffic citations (these are thankfully not considered convictions under the expungement law). You also need to wait 15 years from the last date that you were actively incarcerated or on probation or, if that isn't applicable, from the date of conviction. At that point, you'll need to file an affidavit saying that you have behaved with good moral character since the conviction and have not had any new convictions since (except traffic citations). You will need character references from non-family members and will then have to fill out the expungement petition to be filed with the court. Certain officials, including the district attorney in the county where the crime occurred will need to be notified and the petition then filed with the clerk of court. You will pay your court fees and, if the court decides, may have to attend a short hearing. After that, you simply wait for the petition to make its way through the system and, hopefully, get approved shortly thereafter. Once approved, the criminal record is destroyed by the court and by any administrative agencies that have copies.

What Is the Benefit of an Expungement?

Anyone who has a criminal incident in their past understands the kind of dark cloud it can cast over your life. An arrest or a criminal conviction can make it difficult to find and keep a job, which in turn makes everything else a lot harder. It can be difficult to secure student loans, making going back to school an even greater challenge. Criminal convictions can impact housing, leading to landlords denying residency applications. It can also make it hard to secure loans, with banks and other financial institutions charging higher interest rates for those with criminal convictions, that is assuming they are willing to extend the credit in the first place.

If you have had any criminal convictions and think you might be able to benefit from having a clean criminal record, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced Mooresville, North Carolina criminal defense attorneys. The lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help guide you through the complex expungement process, giving you hope for a truly fresh start.