Everything you need to know about expungement in North Carolina

Expungement is the process that seals or “erases” a conviction, charge, or arrest from public record. When an arrest or criminal conviction is expunged from a person’s record, they no longer have to disclose that information on an application for a job, apartment, or higher education.

NC’s Second Chance Act: changes you need to know

In June of 2020, a criminal justice reform bill was passed unanimously in North Carolina’s General Assembly. Senate Bill 562, also known as the Second Chance Act, is a “clean slate” bill that expands eligibility for expunging non-violent criminal convictions and automates expunging certain “dismissed” or “not guilty” charges after December 1, 2021.

  • Automatic Relief
    • Certain misdemeanors and felonies that are dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty will be expunged automatically. You will not need to file an expungement petition with the court to remove the charge from your record.
  • Juvenile Offenses
    • If you were 16 or 17 when you were arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony prior to December 1, 2019, you will be able to petition for expungement of that arrest or conviction.
  • Expanded Eligibility
    • You can petition for expungement of multiple non-violent misdemeanor convictions after 7 years of good behavior.

If you’re not sure if you are eligible for expungement under the new NC law, give our legal team a call at 704-512-0606. We can help you determine your eligibility and advise you on how to move forward.

How do I get my record expunged?

A petition for expungement must be properly filed in the county where the charges took place. Because expungement is a lengthy process, filling out and filing the paperwork correctly is key to getting an expungement approved. Your best bet is to contact an experienced attorney to help you file for expungement. 

Contact us today to get started on the expungement process and to get your record cleared as soon as possible. 

Is a dismissal of charges the same thing as an expungement?

No, expungement and dismissal are not the same thing. A dismissed charge means the State cannot reopen your case for further litigation. However, a dismissed charge remains on your record indefinitely and will be found in background checks. 

A dismissed charge can be expunged, depending on the severity of the crime.

Can I get more than one expungement?

Generally, you can have one non-violent felony or one non-violent misdemeanor expunged from your record. But in certain cases, more than one expungement can be approved. Additionally, violent felonies, violent misdemeanors, and certain drug crimes are not eligible for expungement at all.

  • If the arrest resulted in a dismissal or not guilty verdict, you are allowed unlimited expungements. If you have also committed a felony, however, you are not allowed any expungements.
  • If you were convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor, you are allowed multiple expungements if they are resolved at the same time or within one year of each other.

When can I apply for expungement?

In order to expunge a misdemeanor conviction, you must wait five years after the charge. For felony convictions, you only qualify for expungement after waiting 10 years.

Does it cost anything to file for an expungement?

If your charges were dismissed by the court or you were found not guilty, there is no charge to file for expungement. In all other cases, however, there is a filing fee of $175.00.

How long does it take to get an expungement approved?

The expungement process is not a quick one. Once a petition for expungement is filed, it will usually take between 7-10 months for it to be returned. If there are any errors in the forms filed, the petition for expungement will be rejected and you must start the process all over again. 

Because having your criminal record expunged can help you in your future employment applications, lease applications, or background checks, getting everything right the first time is crucial. Let our experienced criminal defense attorneys help you with your petition for expungement.