North Carolina Legislators Reform Expungement Laws

Posted by Josh Valentine | Aug 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Stern talking-to's from teachers warned us that our actions would one day lead to a mark on our “permanent record.” At the time of the lecture, we shrugged off the warnings from our teachers and either continued doing what we wanted to do or decided to follow the rules. In school, the idea of something going on your “permanent record” wasn't as scary or as detrimental as the reality of having a criminal record as an adult. The consequences one would face in school are not remotely comparable to the lasting repercussions one faces when their record is tainted with a conviction. Unfortunately, a criminal record can hinder job opportunities, limit a person's access to government aid and even strip them of their right to vote - punishments that far exceed the ones carried out by the criminal justice system.

For this reason, states have enacted laws that permit criminal expungements - or the eradication or sealing of a criminal charge - for people who want to move on from their past mistakes. Bipartisan legislators in North Carolina have currently made strides to reform the state's current expungement laws with the enactment of Senate Bill 445. Their aim was to make the expunction process more efficient and provide a system that is proven to be more merciful towards state residents with criminal charges.

The bill was currently signed into law by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and the changes in the old law are undoubtedly substantial. Under the previous law, people were only granted one expunction in their lifetime. The new law, however, permits more than one expunction in circumstances when charges are dismissed or a verdict is disposed “not guilty.” In North Carolina, residents who are charged with felony offenses oftentimes ultimately plead guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges, especially in cases involving drugs. Although the federal charges are dismissed, they still stay on a person's record. Daniel Bowes, attorney for the state Second Chance Initiative and a drafter of the law, expounded on the adverse impact that dismissed felony drug charges have had on offenders.

“What we've seen is that the felony dismissed charges are more of a problem for employments, housing and other resources or opportunities than the misdemeanor drug conviction,” Bowes said. “The collateral consequences of a felony dismissed charge are often more severe than the direct consequences of the misdemeanor charge they were convicted of.”

In addition to these changes, the new law has shortened the amount of time first offenders convicted of nonviolent crimes are obligated to wait prior to seeking an expunction from 15 years to five years. Gov. Cooper spoke proudly of the revisions in the state's expungement law, claiming that they were necessary.

“The criminal justice system should not end in incarceration; it should end in restoration,” Cooper said at a recent ceremony held at the State Capital. “We have to take affirmative steps to make sure that re-entry into society is successful, not only because it's the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, but it's the safe thing to do for our communities.”

Experienced Expungement Attorneys

Although the changes in North Carolina's expungement laws have streamlined the process, it still is relatively time consuming and complex. There are still a number of steps that you must take to get your petition processed accurately and efficiently. Contact Caulder & Valentine today for a consultation and a shot at getting criminal charges off of your record.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person that was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer.  So that's why I became an attorney.  I understand what you are going through—and I'm here to help you.  Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life. Before attending law school, I worked for a law firm focused on record clearing services, including expungements, pardons, and motions for appropriate relief.  The vast experience and understanding of North Carolina's expungement laws that I have acquired has given me an advantage in defending criminal charges, because not only do I fight for the best possible outcome in your case, but I am also continually conscious of the long term effects that a criminal charge or conviction can have on a person's life.  As such, I will do whatever I can to insure that my clients will not end up with a criminal record.  I was born in New London, Connecticut, but spent the first few years of my life in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Rutherfordton, North Carolina in 2001.  Upon graduating from high school, I attended Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where I majored in Accounting.  Eager to finish school, I began law school at Charlotte School of Law the day of my graduation from GWU, and completed my law degree in two years (instead of the typical three). During law school, I studied hard and strived to acquire the most experience possible so that I would be practice ready upon graduation.  The opportunities I gained included prosecuting criminal defendants through an externship with the Burke County District Attorney's Office, defending criminal defendants through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic, and interning with Farmer & Morris, PLLC. I am blessed with a beautiful wife, Gabrielle Valentine, who is an attorney at Farmer & Morris, PLLC, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  In my free time, I enjoy helping with the youth group in my church, playing basketball and softball in our local church leagues, serving in the prison ministry, and spending time with my family.  Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment



Are you still not sure whether you qualify for an expungement? Do you have specific questions about your record you would like to discuss with a North Carolina attorney? Or are you ready to get started with the expungement process? Give us a call or send us a message today!