North Carolina Adult Criminal Expunction Law
Under certain circumstances, an adult may be able to have their criminal record expunged. Expunction, sometimes called “expungement”, is the legal process by which the arrest or conviction of a person may be erased from the public record and from his/her criminal record. Expunction is not available in every case. In general, if qualified, you are entitled to only one expunction in your lifetime in North Carolina. When an expunction is granted by a Judge, the Court orders that all entries relating to the arrest, charge or trial be expunged from the records of the Court and all law enforcement agencies having records of the same. If an expunction is granted by the Court, then the arrest or conviction lawfully does not have to be disclosed by the person whose record was expunged. It is important to note that an expunction of the case information from the Court's records does not guarantee your case information will be expunged from other sources such as private companies who acquire copies of criminal records to sell to potential employers.
Expunctions available under North Carolina fall into three main categories: Expunctions based on time since the crime, expunctions based on dismissals or findings of not guilty, and expunctions of certain drug related offenses. There are a number of statutory categories dealing with expunctions, including those addressing gang related offenses, drug offenses, toxic vapor offenses and cyber-bullying, among others. Each statute has certain requirements and procedures which must be met in order to qualify for an expunction.
Changes to Expungement Law Beginning December 1, 2012
On December 1, 2012, a law was passed in North Carolina which changes who can qualify for an expungement of a previous crime on a person's criminal record. Prior to December 1, a person could generally only qualify for an expungement for a crime committed prior to turning age 18, or if a crime was charged and the charge was later dismissed or the person was found innocent. This is an important point because many prospective employers ask if a person has ever been charged with a crime, and the criminal charge, if not expunged, would remain on that person's criminal record for life.
The new law beginning December 1 creates a legal process which allows individuals who have been convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors or felonies to expunge a conviction after a period of 15 years has passed, regardless of the age of the person. The law does not cover violent felonies or misdemeanors or certain drug offenses. A petition must be filed with notice to the district attorney, and the court must find all the factors of the law are met, including:
- No previous convictions have been expunged under any other expunction provision
- Petitioner has no outstanding warrants or pending criminal cases and has remained of good moral character
- Petitioner has no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgments for restitution
- Petitioner has no other felony or misdemeanor convictions (this does not include traffic violations)
This page is intended to provide general information about Expunctions. Contact the attorneys at Brinkley Walser for a free consultation to discuss the specific facts of your situation in order to determine whether or not you qualify for an Expunction under North Carolina law.