Recent Changes to the Expungement Laws of North Carolina

Recent Changes to the Expungement Laws of North Carolina

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney at Law There is good news for many people in North Carolina who would like to have their criminal records expunged. If you have ever searched for a job after having been charged with a crime, you likely understand how frustrating it can be to find an employer willing to hire you. In North Carolina, even pending and dismissed charges can stay on your record forever. This is also true if you were tried and found innocent. The good news? Under North Carolina law, there are certain instances in which an individual may qualify to have their criminal record “expunged” and the previous arrest or conviction removed. The laws were changed under N.C. Senate Bill 445 in December of 2017 to expand the number of people who qualify to have their record expunged. It is estimated that up to two-million North Carolinians may benefit from this change, allowing them to apply to have their records expunged and make it easier to find employment and housing. Expungement (sometimes called expunction) is not an option in all cases. In the past, you were limited to one expungement in North Carolina in your lifetime. That has now changed. Individuals are able to apply to expunge multiple dismissed charges as long as the individual has not been convicted of a felony and does not have charges pending, among other requirements. The law does not allow you to expunge violent felonies, violent misdemeanors, or certain drug offenses. The individual applying for expungement must also have stayed out of trouble since the original arrest. There are other requirements that must...
Do I Qualify to Have My Criminal Record Expunged?

Do I Qualify to Have My Criminal Record Expunged?

A criminal record can cause ongoing problems even if you’ve walked the straight and narrow since your conviction. If you have a criminal record, it can be challenging to find a job. You may bump into issues renting an apartment if the complex requires a criminal background check, or volunteering with some organizations. North Carolina law allows for the expungement (or expunction) of criminal records in certain instances. Expunging the record effectively means the conviction is no longer on your record and does not need to be disclosed. It is a great option that can open employment opportunities for many individuals. Who qualifies for expungement? The rules may differ depending on the type of offense, but in general you may apply to have your record expunged if: The charges against you were dismissed or you were found not guilty; Your conviction was for a nonviolent misdemeanor and at least 5 years have passed, or a nonviolent felony and at least 10 years have passed since the conviction (certain drug offenses are excluded); You have no other felony or misdemeanor convictions; You have no outstanding warrants or pending convictions; You have remained “of good moral character;” You have no outstanding criminal or civil restitution orders. What else do I need to know? Once information is out on the Internet, it can be hard to clean up. In addition, there are many private companies used by employers to run background checks. It is possible that even though your record has been expunged, the conviction will still show up in some places. You may need to send copies of the expunction paperwork...
I’ve Been Arrested. What Do I Do Now?

I’ve Been Arrested. What Do I Do Now?

If you are arrested for a crime, there are steps you should take to protect your rights under the law. Most crimes will be classified as either felonies (more serious crimes with more severe potential consequences) or misdemeanors (less serious crimes). Regardless of which type of crime you are charged with, you should follow this advice: Do not argue with, resist or assault the arresting officer. This will only make the situation worse and could result in additional charges. Even if you are acquitted of the original charge, you may still be convicted of resisting arrest – especially if your actions are caught on police video. The police, jail and court personnel are doing their jobs. Be polite and do not lash out at them. You should answer basic questions about your name and address, and provide the officer with your date of birth. Ask to speak with an attorney before answering any other questions. After your arrest, you will be taking before a Judge for an initial hearing. For a misdemeanor crime, you may be released with a promise to appear in court at a later date, or the Judge may order you to wear an electronic monitoring device. Alternatively, the Judge may set a secured or unsecured bond, requiring you to pay the amount ordered to secure your release. If you are arrested at night or on a weekend or holiday, you may spend a night or two in jail before you can see a Judge. Once you are released, follow any restrictions set by the Judge (for instance, your driving privileges may be limited or you...
5 Things Everyone Who is Arrested Must Know

5 Things Everyone Who is Arrested Must Know

Most of us will never be arrested. But if you are, there are some key things you should know: Be polite and courteous to the arresting officer, Magistrate, and jail personnel. Follow all instructions given by law enforcement officer and judicial officials. Tell the arresting officer you want an attorney before answering any questions other than biographical information (name, address, birth date, etc.). If arrested, you will be taken before a Magistrate, who will set a bond. The Magistrate will authorize your release upon execution of (a.) a written promise to appear; (b.) custody release; (c.) electronic house arrest; (d.) an unsecured bond; or (e.) a secured bond in some dollar amount. The Magistrate can also set restrictions or conditions you must follow upon your release from custody. For example, if you are arrested for an assault charge, the Magistrate can set a restriction that you not have any contact with the purported victim. It is important that you take advantage of your right to counsel. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure your rights are protected....