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The Difference Between an Expungement and a Pardon in North Carolina

If you want to assess the options available to address your criminal record in North Carolina, you may be a little unsure about how to proceed. After all, there are a few different options available to you. Legal terms like “expungement,” “pardon,” and “dismissal” may not make much sense. However, it is important to understand these terms if you want to maintain your reputation and address your criminal record.

A clean criminal record can be a serious benefit. You may be searching for a job that requires a background check. Perhaps you are worried that your neighbors or loved ones might find out about your troubled past. Or maybe you simply want the weight of your criminal record lifted from your shoulders. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you enlist the help of an attorney who can help you take the correct steps forward.

Cleaning up your criminal record can be a demanding process that may take months. An attorney can help you with a variety of tasks, such as paperwork, compiling evidence, and communicating with the County Clerk of Superior Court. With an attorney by your side, you can take the stress out of this process and feel confident about your chances.

Pursuing Expungement

One of the most effective ways to clean up your criminal record in North Carolina is to pursue an expungement. Although the word might sound complex, the concept is relatively straightforward. Once you get an expungement, your criminal record will be sealed from public view; it is like you never committed a crime. You are even allowed to tell others you have never been charged with a crime.

There are several things you need to keep in mind when seeking an expungement:

  • Only certain crimes are eligible for expungement. Most of these crimes include nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors.
  • You will need to file an expungement petition in the county where the arrest occurred.
  • The State Bureau of Investigation will examine your petition, and this process can take several months.
  • You may be called to a hearing to face a judge, especially if the judge has questions for you regarding your past crimes and your expungement hearing. The district attorney may also raise objections during this hearing.

If everything goes to plan, the judge will sign your expungement petition, signifying their approval. However, it is worth mentioning that it is not as simple as filing a petition and waiting for approval. You may have to overcome several potential issues about your petition, such as the District Attorney objecting to the expungement, which is why it is important to get help from an attorney during this process.

Can’t I Get a Pardon Instead?

If you wish to deal with your criminal record, you may be trying to decide between an expungement and a pardon. Although these two legal concepts are similar, they also have a fair share of differences.

The first thing you need to know is that a pardon is typically much more difficult to achieve compared to an expungement. The governor of North Carolina only grants a handful of pardons per year, and most attorneys agree that you will have a better chance of pursuing an expungement.

Also, a pardon does not seal or “hide” your criminal records from public view in the same way as an expungement. Your records will still be visible, but there will be a pardon that is “attached” to your charge.

There are several different pardons you can pursue. These include a Pardon of Innocence, a Pardon of Forgiveness, and an Unconditional Pardon. If you are already in jail and your charges have been dismissed because of new information that shows your innocence, an attorney can help you pursue a Pardon of Innocence.

Other Methods

You can also have your charges dismissed and avoid a criminal record before you even serve jail time or receive criminal charges. For example, an attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed during the court proceedings.

On the other hand, your attorney may be able to convince the court to enroll you in a first-time offender program if you are eligible. These programs help defer your sentence and avoid a criminal record as long as you follow a strict set of rules over a certain period of time. These programs can involve things like drug treatment or community service.

Contact Us Today

If you want to assess the options available for your criminal record, we can help. Contact one of the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to see how we can defend your rights. For your convenience and safety, we now offer video and phone conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.