Criminal records can prevent us from accomplishing our life’s goals and may reflect a brief lapse of reason, simple mistake or in many cases charges that were dismissed. Even where an individual has not been found guilty, received a Prayer for Judgment or had charges dismissed; a criminal record remains unless an expunction is granted. Charges and convictions brought against minors and individuals under the age of 21 remain on record unless there has been an expunction.
An expunction is the destruction of a criminal record by court order. The term expunction and expungement are used interchangeably for the purpose of NC statutes. Once an expunction has been obtained for a particular charge or offense the individual may truthfully deny ever having been charged or found guilty under North Carolina law without risk of committing perjury (there are a few exceptions). NC law prohibits private employers and educational institutions from asking applicants whether they have had an expunction of their criminal record.
The process is administered at the County level where the charges were levied before entry for expunction at the State level in Raleigh.
What is the expunction process? Will I need a lawyer?
Individuals who are eligible must submit a Petition. The Petition may also require a variety of Affidavits concerning their behavior since the time of the offense and show their criminal history. Depending on the circumstance the court may be obligated to grant eligible petitions or the local District Attorney may have the opportunity to appeal to the court’s discretion in objecting to expunction.
Just like a criminal trial, there is no obligation to employ an attorney and individuals may petition on their own. The petition process can be difficult and complicated so employing an attorney can ensure the petition is submitted properly and may improve your likelihood of a positive outcome.
Who is eligible for expuntion in North Carolina?
In North Carolina there are several circumstances where individuals may be granted an expunction. Generally:
- First time offenses committed under age 18 or 22 (for certain drug offenses).
- Charges that have been dismissed or disposed as “not guilty.”
- First time non-violent felonies and misdemeanors which were committed more than 15 years ago.
Each circumstance is dependent on a variety of other factors which may disqualify the petitioner. There may be other circumstances where an expunction is possible. There may be other avenues to accomplish the same objectives. Call for more information.
What else should I know about NC expunctions?
There are many gray areas in NC expunction law that can be treated differently depending on the disposition of the local judiciary and County procedures. DUIs may or may not be treated as a waivable “traffic offense” for the purposes of expunction. Individuals who have been found guilty of a reduced charge may be eligible to have the original charge treated as a dismissed charge for the purpose of expunction.
If you are serious about restoring your good name and preserving your reputation, talking to an attorney will ensure you won’t be denied any opportunities legally available to you. Call (910) 341-7570 for more information.