An expungement of a criminal record is the destruction of police records of an individual’s convictions and can help them avoid the long-term consequences of a permanent criminal record. However, the right to an expungement was severely limited in North Carolina until a new law in December 2017 made it easier to obtain one.
North Carolina enacted another new law called the Second Chance Act in June 2020 that streamlines the expungement process and allows even more individuals to clear their criminal record. This law is effective on December 1, 2020. Here are some of the major changes in the law that may help you.
Expungement of Juvenile Records
The new law will make it easier to expunge juvenile misdemeanor and Class H and I felonies. However, violation of some motor vehicle laws, such as DWI, or a conviction that requires registration as a sex offender, are not eligible for expungement. To qualify for an expungement, these conditions must be met:
- The offense must have been committed before December 1, 2019.
- The crime must have been committed when the juvenile was at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old.
- The person must have served any active sentence, probation, or other supervision ordered by the court.
- The individual must not have any restitution orders or outstanding civil judgments for restitution.
Expungement of Dismissals and Acquittals
The new law makes the process simpler to expunge dismissals and acquittals for charges disposed of on or after December 1, 2021. It allows for automatic expungements of dismissals without leave by the prosecutor, dismissals by the judge, or a finding of not guilty or not responsible. There is no waiting period and no limit on the number of expungements an individual can obtain.
Expungement of Nonviolent Misdemeanors and Felonies
It can also be easier to obtain an expungement of older nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies under the Second Chance Act. This new law is effective for petitions for expungements filed on or after December 1, 2020. A person may be eligible for an expungement of the following:
- One nonviolent misdemeanor conviction after five years
- More than one nonviolent misdemeanor conviction after seven years
- One felony nonviolent conviction after 10 years
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