NC Expungement Law: What You Need to Know
If you have a criminal record – and if you've ever been arrested, you do – you may need to know about NC expungement law. Under NC expungement laws, many people are eligible to have arrests, court proceedings and even convictions wiped from their criminal records.
That means you could be entitled to a fresh start.
NC Expungement Law: What it Covers
North Carolina expungement law allows many people to clear their criminal records. Once a criminal record is expunged, it's almost as if nothing ever happened. Employers, landlords and the general public will no longer be able to see the marks on your criminal record. Your records will still be available to law enforcement professionals, the military and some other organizations, but it's not as if they'll be hanging over your head when you apply for a job or try to rent a new home.
Who is Eligible for Record Clearing Under NC Expungement Law?
You could be eligible for criminal record clearing under NC expungement law if you:
- Were arrested but never charged
- Went to court and were found not guilty
- Had your identity stolen and were falsely accused of a crime
- Went to court and had your case dismissed
- Committed certain misdemeanors
- Committed certain nonviolent Class H or Class I felonies
Many misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, and some people are eligible for felony expungement under certain conditions. If you think you may be eligible, it's worth calling a NC expungement attorney to find out.
In some cases, NC expungement law prevents a person who has any other convictions from filing a petition for expungement. However, that's not always the case. You also need to know that a previous expungement can affect your ability to file again, such as when you've had a felony conviction expunged in the past but want to expunge another one. However, previous expungements won't get in your way if you're expunging not guilty verdicts or arrests that never resulted in charges (and a handful of other types of expungements).
The bottom line is that if you have a criminal record, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney about NC expungement law and see if you're eligible to clear it – especially if it's hanging over your head when you apply for jobs or try to get an apartment.
How Can You Clear Your Criminal Record Under NC Expungement Law?
- Find out whether you're eligible
- File the petition
- Wait for your petition to go through review
- Wait for the judge to make a decision
In order to qualify for expungement, you have to meet all the requirements – and you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can apply. In many cases, you have to wait at least 5 years from the date of your conviction of a misdemeanor or from the date you completed your probation. If you're expunging a felony, you must usually wait 10 years from the date of your conviction or from the date you completed your sentence or probation. However, the waiting periods vary. For example, you can file as soon as a charge is dismissed or as soon as you're found not guilty; if you are expunging a charge you picked up when you were a minor, you may not have to wait that long, either. Your lawyer can give you case-specific guidance.
Your attorney will file the petition for you, which also involves serving a copy to the district attorney in the county where you were charged. The district attorney has a chance to object. You might also have to appear in court for a hearing; if you're required to go to court, your lawyer can represent you there.
Your petition goes to the State Bureau of Investigation and some other agencies, where your records are checked against what you stated in your petition. Finally, it ends up on a judge's desk. The judge will make his or her decision and notify the clerk of court. The clerk of court will then notify all the appropriate agencies if the judge has granted your petition.
For most people, it's a lot easier to work with a NC expungement lawyer who understands the process and who can provide case-specific advice along the way. Your lawyer will file all the necessary paperwork, serve the district attorney, and handle every legal aspect of the case so you don't have to worry about it – all you have to do is wait for the judge to make his or her decision.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About NC Expungement Law?
If you need to talk to an attorney about NC expungement law and find out whether you're eligible for criminal record clearing, we can help.
Call us at 704-470-2440 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can answer your questions today.