For Buncombe County residents, having a criminal record can have serious effects on career and livelihood. And in today's world, merely being arrested for a crime may serve as a cause for concern for employers. Fortunately, North Carolina has specific laws and processes exclusively regarding expungements - the complete destruction of criminal records - that will help level the playing field for those with prior convictions. But first, residents must meet multiple requirements in order to be granted an expungement.
As with most laws, there are restrictions and limitations. In subjection to North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5), Buncombe residents who have previously committed either a misdemeanor or a level H or I felony may be able to receive an expunction. However, there are a number of statutory requirements that must be met.
Not every offense may be expunged. If you have been convicted for any of the following crimes, the state will not allow you to receive an expunction:
- Offenses that involve the operation of a commercial motor vehicle
- Offenses that involve the possession of illegal substances such as heroin and methamphetamines or the distribution and/or sale of cocaine
- Offenses that constitute as hate crimes
- Offenses that require a person to have their name placed on the state sexual offender registry
- Offenses that involve assault in any variation (aggravated assault, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault etc.)
In addition to these stipulations, North Carolina requires that those seeking a conviction wait a minimum of 15 years from the date of their conviction, or the date of completion of all sentencing requirements in order to be eligible to petition.
Initiating Expungement in Buncombe County
Affidavits and Expungement Forms
The first step of the expungement process is filling out the required expungement forms and affidavits.
On the expungement form, petitioners must include important information pertaining to the conviction, such as the date a petitioner was arrested, the date of said conviction, the date of disposition, the case file number, etc.
Three affidavits must accompany this form. One of them should be filled out by the petitioner, while the other two should be from two other parties who are not related to the petitioner by either blood or marriage. The first affidavit submitted by the petitioner should contain information that proves that he or she has not been convicted of any other crimes (besides traffic tickets) since the date of the offense he or she wishes to expunge. The other two affidavits must address the petitioner's good character.
Upon the completion of these forms, the should be filed in the office of the Buncombe County Clerk of Court. Petitioners should expect a filing fee of $175.
The Review Process
Once the petition is filed, a judge will send it to the Administrative Office of the Courts and the State Bureau of Investigation for review. These agencies are responsible for determining if the petitioner has received a prior expungement or if the petitioner has any other convictions. When a petition passes this phase, it will be sent back to the clerk and a hearing will be scheduled. In this hearing, the court will decide whether the expungement petition should be granted. In the event that the petition is granted, a judge will then order that all records of said conviction be completely destroyed.
Experienced Expungement Attorney
When a person takes it upon themselves to file without the help of legal representation, they may experience delays or insufficiencies within the process of expungement. These issues may drastically prolong the expungement process. Contact the attorneys at Caulder & Valentine to file your petition correctly the first time.