Changes to the Expungement Laws as of December 2012

Changes to the Expungement Laws as of December 2012

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. Even if the charge was later dismissed or you were found innocent, the charge remains on your record.

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. Expungement (sometimes called expunction) is not an option in all cases, and the individual is only eligible for one expungement in his or her lifetime. The law does not cover violent felonies or misdemeanors or certain drug offenses, and the individual applying for expungement must have stayed out of trouble since the original arrest. There are other requirements that must be met, so speaking with a North Carolina criminal defense attorney is your best option to find out if you qualify.

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. 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)

If you believe you may qualify to have your criminal record expunged, you should speak to an attorney about the specifics of your situation.