If you're like many people with a few mistakes in your past, you need to know how to get a record expunged in North Carolina.
Under North Carolina's new expungement law, you could be eligible for criminal record clearing. Here's what you need to know about the law itself and how to get a record expunged.
How to Get a Record Expunged in North Carolina
In some cases, the best way to get a record expunged in North Carolina is to work with an expunction attorney. While there's never any guarantee on how a judge will rule, working with a lawyer who understands the process and who can answer your questions every step of the way can be a huge relief. To get your record cleared, you must go through the expungement process:
- Qualify for expungement
- Meet the required waiting period
- Get two notarized affidavits from people who know you
- Write an affidavit of your own
- Fill out the expungement petition
- Serve the district attorney in the county where you were charged
- File the expungement petition with the court
- Attend a court hearing, if necessary
Once you've taken all the appropriate steps (or your attorney has taken them for you), you just have to wait for the judge assigned to your case to make a decision.
Who Qualifies to Get a Record Expunged?
The conviction you want to expunge from your record must be a misdemeanor or a Class H or Class I felony. It can't involve assault as an essential element of the offense. That means it must be a nonviolent crime – you can't expunge violent crimes. You can't expunge a conviction that required you to register as a sex offender, either.
If you have any other convictions (not counting traffic citations), or if you have open cases or a warrant for your arrest, you can't get your record expunged.
Waiting to Get Your Record Expunged
You must wait 5 years from the completion of your sentence to expunge a misdemeanor and 10 years from the completion of your sentence to expunge a felony. If your charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty, you can file right away.
Affidavits for Your Expungement
You need to submit three affidavits with your petition to get your record expunged in North Carolina. One is from you, and two need to be from people who know you in your community but who aren't related to you by blood or marriage.
Your affidavit needs to state that you're a person of good moral character and outline the reasons you're asking the court to expunge your record.
The affidavits from people who know you must say that you're a good, productive member of society and that you deserve an expungement. Think of these affidavits as people vouching for your good character.
The Expungement Petition
You'll need to fill out an expungement petition that includes the date of the offense and the disposition, the case number, and which agency arrested you. You'll also have to provide details about the charges you received.
Serving the DA
The district attorney in the county where you were charged gets a chance to object to your petition for expungement. He or she can't do that without your petition, so you'll have to serve the DA's office with a copy of the affidavits and your petition. (When you work with a lawyer, he'll handle all this for you.)
Filing the Petition to Get Your Record Expunged
Once you've served the DA and completed all your paperwork, it's time to file your petition with the court. There's a $175 filing fee. Some counties require certified copies of your criminal records, but not all of them do. Your attorney can file all the paperwork for you so you don't have to show up at the courthouse.
Court Hearings for Expungement
Every county has its own procedures for expungement cases. Sometimes, people have to go to a court hearing and explain why they deserve an expungement. If that happens in your case, your attorney will represent you.
Finally, the judge will make a decision in your case. If the courts agree that you deserve a fresh start, the clerk of court will notify everyone who needs to know that your record is clear.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How to Get a Record Expunged in NC?
If you need to talk to an attorney about how to get a record expunged in North Carolina, we can help. Call us at 704-470-2440 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer today.