"Expunge My Record!" What You Need to Know About Expunction
“Please expunge my record – I'm having a hard time getting a job and finding a place to live.”
As North Carolina expungement lawyers, we hear that a lot. Fortunately, we're able to help many people clear their criminal records and get the fresh starts they deserve. Thanks to a relatively new expungement law in NC, millions of people have become eligible for expunction – and they're eligible for it sooner than they would've been under the old law.
If you need a criminal record expungement, here's a quick run-down of the things you need to understand:
- How expungement works
- What crimes you can (and can't) erase from your record
- What happens after a judge orders expunction
“Expunge My Record!” How Expungement Works
Expungement isn't an overnight fix. Instead, it's a process. For most people, it makes sense to work with an expungement attorney who understands the law and the process – and who can tackle the legal side of it for them.
In order to have your criminal record expunged, you must be eligible (more on that later). If you're eligible, your attorney can file the paperwork for you. Paperwork has to be filed in the county that has your arrest records – so, for example, if you were arrested and convicted in Shelby, your paperwork needs to go through Cleveland County. If you were arrested and convicted in Fayetteville, your paperwork needs to go through Cumberland County.
You'll have to agree to background checks so that the court knows whether you've had other records expunged and whether you have any open cases. Your attorney will then serve your petition for expungement on the district attorney, who has the chance to object. If the district attorney objects to your expungement, you could be entitled to a hearing; if that happens, your attorney can represent you.
If the DA's office agrees that you're entitled to a fresh start, he or she will sign off on your petition – and then the case keeps moving. The judge in your case will have a chance to evaluate all your paperwork and make a final decision. When the judge grants you an expungement, the clerk of court will let all the appropriate agencies know; then, those agencies have to act accordingly.
What Crimes Can You Expunge in North Carolina?
Generally, you can expunge crimes you were charged with but never convicted of. Let's say you were arrested for drunk driving, but police dropped the charges and you were let go; you have a record for being arrested, which can be expunged. You can also expunge criminal records that you only have because of stolen identity – if someone stole your identity and committed crimes, you're in no way responsible for carrying that criminal record around for the rest of your life.
For the most part, the crimes you can expunge are certain non-violent misdemeanors and felonies. In many cases, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 misdemeanors are eligible for expungement – including some drug charges – with some restrictions. Some juvenile crimes are eligible for expungement, too (see misdemeanors committed by a minor and felonies committed by a minor for more information).
What Happens After a Judge Orders Expunction?
If the judge in your case orders the expunction of your criminal record, the court clerk is responsible for telling all the agencies that have your records. The clerk will also seal court records within the court.
The expunction order will require background check services and services that disseminate criminal information to delete your records, too. Most importantly, an expunction restores you to your original status – it's like the alleged crime, arrest and criminal proceedings never even happened. You can officially say that you don't have a criminal record, and you can't be penalized for failing to acknowledge it.
Remember, though, that law enforcement agencies will still be able to see that you've had your records expunged, which can be important if you're ever charged with another crime.
Do You Need to Talk to an Expunction Lawyer?
If you think you may be eligible for expungement, call us right away.
We'll discuss every aspect of your case and determine whether you're eligible for an expungement. If you are, we'll begin taking the necessary steps to clear your name and get you the fresh start you deserve.
Call us at 704-470-2440 for a free case review today.