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Can Violent Misdemeanors Be Expunged?

A misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record can cause difficulty getting a job, finding an apartment, or buying a home or car. If you’ve made a mistake in your life that resulted in a misdemeanor conviction, there may be a way you can have it removed from your record. 

Some types of violent misdemeanors can never be removed from your record, while non-violent misdemeanors can be removed after 5 years. Let’s look at violent and non-violent misdemeanors and learn what you can do to get your life back.

Types of Misdemeanors

There are so many kinds of misdemeanors in North Carolina that it is impossible to list them all here. Here are examples of misdemeanor crime laws that you may not even know about:

  • Wearing by nonmembers of American Legion emblem for commercialization purposes.
  • Littering (15 pounds or less, not for commercial purposes).
  • Parking vehicle in private parking space without permission.
  • Unlawful removal or destruction of electronic dog collars.
  • Unlawful manufacture, sale, delivery, or possession of Salvia divinorum.
  • Intoxicated and disruptive in public.
  • Computer trespass.
  • Riding on train unlawfully.
  • Penalty for operation of pet shop, kennel or auction without license.
  • Sale of speleothems unlawful

If you would like to read the rest of the 66-page list of possible misdemeanor charges in North Carolina, you can read them here.

Even though you may not have realized you were breaking the law when you were charged with a misdemeanor, ignorance of the law is not generally the best defense. It is always best to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney before going to court on any charge.

Get Rid of Convictions

Once you have a misdemeanor conviction, it stays on your record unless you choose to file for an expungement of your charges. An expungement wipes your record clean, and your past is no longer held against you in a court of law or on background checks.  

The expungement process includes multiple steps involving the court system, the arresting agency, and the State Bureau of Investigation.  In the absence of legal representation, the petitioner must correctly complete the petition form to include all personal and court information, docket numbers, charges, and dispositions.

Before completing the petition form, you can obtain a copy of your criminal history record information at the SBI’s Right To Review process under the “Personal Background Check” section. You must include all charges, corresponding docket numbers, and file numbers in the appropriate locations on the petition form

Correctly filling out the petition is crucial to success. The petition form must include the appropriate North Carolina General Statute (find the statutes listed in the petition section entitled Petition/Motion to Expunge), your signature or your attorney’s signature, and a judge’s signature. The application will automatically be rejected if this information is missing.

When Can I Apply to Have My Record Wiped Clean?

You are eligible for expungement once you are 5 years out from the offense (and your sentence, if any, is completed). Any type of misdemeanor is eligible for expungement (also called expunction) unless it is a violent offense. 

According to statistics by the UNC School of Government the most common non-violent misdemeanors in North Carolina include the following as seen in this chart:

Violent Misdemeanors

If your misdemeanor is considered violent, it may not be expunged according to North Carolina law. If you were a minor when you committed the offense, there might be a chance for expungement. Talk to your criminal law attorney to find out what is possible for you. 

Some examples of violent misdemeanors in North Carolina are reflected in the chart below by the UNC School of Government:

However, even some of these convictions, such as communicating threats and harassing phone calls may be eligible for an expungement for adult offenders. Therefore it’s important to consult with an attorney about your eligibility for an expungement. 

Find Help

Whether you have a long-standing conviction on your record or have just received a sentence for a misdemeanor, it is worth contacting an experienced criminal law attorney to look at your specific case. Laws in North Carolina change and can apply differently to crimes committed in 1980 than ones committed in recently. 

If you are ready to apply for an expungement or are unsure whether you would qualify, our attorneys at Scharff Law can guide you through the process, including any hearings you must attend, and help file your petition. The best outcomes are when working with an attorney who understands the laws and how they may apply to your unique situation.