The criminal court system in North Carolina is founded on keeping order and the premise of rehabilitation. Once you’ve paid your debt to society, you should be free of any further negative consequences. As any North Carolina expungement lawyer can tell you, unfortunately that doesn’t always happen.
Most people don't get full restoration of their rights and status after a conviction, even when charges only resulted in an arrest. A criminal record in North Carolina can be like a scarlet letter. It can impact job opportunities, living choices, funding for education, travel, and other aspects of your life for years — often unnecessarily.
If you have certain charges and convictions on your North Carolina criminal record, you may be able to minimize the impact by having your criminal records expunged.
What is a North Carolina Record Expunction?
In North Carolina, you can hire an expungement attorney to petition the state court system to have your criminal records obscured from the public. Anyone who looks you up to see if you have a criminal history won’t have access to expunged charges or convictions. It's important to understand that your complete record is still accessible to law enforcement agencies under federal law.
Because law enforcement agencies can still access your record even after they’ve been expunged in North Carolina, the term “expungement” is also known as “sealing” your records. This is different from other states where the criminal record is erased entirely and the expunged records are not accessible to anyone.
Once you have completed a North Carolina record expunction, when an employer, financial institution, landlord, etc. requests information regarding your criminal history, it will be like you were never even arrested for an offense.
Which Crimes Can Be Expunged in North Carolina?
Not all crimes qualify for expungement in North Carolina. Most criminal records with serious crimes such as sex offenses, homicide, violence, and child abuse can never be expunged.
There is a mandatory waiting period before you can request an expungement — 10 years for nonviolent felonies and 5 years for nonviolent misdemeanors. You must also have no other felonies or misdemeanors on your record besides a traffic violation to qualify.
So, which charges in North Carolina are eligible for expunction?
If you were charged because of an identity mistake, you might be eligible to have your record expunged.
Offenders who are minors (below the age of 21) who commit a nonviolent crime may be eligible for record expungement if it is their first offense.
Convictions of many nonviolent misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies may be expunged after completion of court-mandated orders and conditions.
How Can I Find Out If My Record is Eligible For Expungement?
The eligibility requirements for expungement in North Carolina are complicated, and the process itself can be a long one. The best way to see if you are eligible and get started clearing your name is to contact an experienced North Carolina expungement attorney at the Law Offices of Jason H. Reece in Charlotte.