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Can You Expunge a Felony Conviction in North Carolina?

can you expunge a felony

Are you wondering if you can expunge a felony in North Carolina? You’re not alone. Many people with a criminal record hope for a fresh start, and understanding the expungement process is a crucial first step.

Felony convictions can significantly impact your life, from employment opportunities to housing options. However, there is hope. North Carolina law does allow for the expungement of certain criminal records, including some felonies, under specific conditions.

So let’s explore what can and cannot be expunged in North Carolina.

Not All Felony Convictions Are Eligible for Expungement

First, it’s important to know that not all felonies can be expunged. Crimes like sex offenses, certain violent crimes, and repeat offenses may not be eligible. For those that can be expunged, the legal process involves several steps.

In North Carolina, specific criteria determine whether a felony is eligible for expungement. Crimes such as violent felonies, Class A through G felonies are not eligible. However, if your conviction falls into a less severe category, like certain non-violent Class H or I felonies, you may have a chance to clear your record.

To start, you’ll need to determine if your felony charges are eligible. This typically depends on factors such as the type of offense, whether it was your first offense, and the time elapsed since your conviction. For example, a first-time, non-violent felony might be eligible for expungement after a certain period. 

Specifically, non-violent felony convictions can often be expunged if it has been at least ten years since the date of conviction or the completion of any active sentence, probation, or post-release supervision, whichever is later.

For instance, many felonies require a waiting period before you can file an expungement petition. During this time, you must have completed all terms of your sentence, including probation, and not have any other criminal offenses. 

The waiting period for a non-violent felony is typically ten years. During this period, you must not have any other convictions (excluding traffic violations).

Here are a few examples of what is eligible for expungement:

  • Up to three non-violent felony convictions
  • One or multiple non-violent misdemeanor convictions
  • A first-time conviction of certain offenses before age 18 or 22.
  • One or multiple convictions of certain offenses committed before age 18 and before December 1, 2019.
  • All dismissed or not-guilty charges
  • A conviction while a victim of human trafficking

Expunge Your Record Again

If you received a nonviolent felony conviction expungement before December 1, 2021, you can obtain an expungement of up to two more felony convictions. 

The law only applies if you committed the offenses:

  • Before your recent expungement and
  • Within the same 24-month period as the expunged felony
  • You can also receive expungement of previous nonviolent misdemeanors committed before December 2021.

Understanding Eligibility More In-Depth

Thanks to recent legal changes, the path to expungement has become more accessible for many in North Carolina. However, it’s important to understand the specific criteria that determine eligibility.

If you have a felony on your record, here are key points to consider:

  • Type of Felony: Expungement laws favor non-violent felonies, especially those that did not cause serious harm or pose a significant danger to others. On the other hand, violent crimes, sexual offenses, and federal felonies are excluded from expungement eligibility.
  • Age Considerations: North Carolina acknowledges that youthful mistakes should not define a person’s entire life. Felonies committed at a younger age may be easier to expunge, reflecting the state’s commitment to second chances and personal development. Specifically, misdemeanors and Class H or I felonies committed before December 1, 2019, by individuals who were 16 or 17 years old are now eligible for expungement.
  • Dismissals and Acquittals: If your charges were dismissed or if you were found not guilty, you are eligible for immediate expungement. North Carolina allows for the swift expungement of these records without a waiting period.
  • Multiple Convictions: Recent changes in state law have expanded the scope for expungement, allowing more individuals with multiple convictions to clear their records.

Learning About Specific Laws Related to Expungement

If you need assistance understanding the below laws, Scharff Law offers a FREE consultation to help you determine your eligibility for expungement. For more detailed information on the legalities of felony expungement in North Carolina, refer to the following statutes.

  • For gang-related offenses, see N.C.G.S. 15A-145.1.
  • For drug offenses dismissed after completing a special program (conditional discharge), refer to N.C.G.S. 15A-145.2(a). If dismissed or acquitted, see N.C.G.S. 15A-145.2(b). For drug or drug paraphernalia convictions, look at N.C.G.S. 15A-145.2(c).
  • For toxic vapor offenses dismissed after program completion, check N.C.G.S. 15A-145.3(a). For dismissals or acquittals, see N.C.G.S. 15A-145.3(b). For toxic vapor convictions, refer to N.C.G.S. 15A-145.3(c).
  • For non-violent offenses committed by individuals under 18, N.C.G.S. 15A-145.4 provides guidance.
  • For general non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, see N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5.
  • For prostitution offenses, refer to N.C.G.S. 15A-145.6.
  • For dismissals of criminal charges or alcohol-related infractions not through a special program (effective December 1, 2014), see N.C.G.S. 15A-146(a) or 15A-146(a1).
  • For identity theft charges resulting in not guilty verdicts or set-asides, check N.C.G.S. 15A-147(a). For dismissals due to mistaken identity or identity theft, see N.C.G.S. 15A-147(a1).
  • For overturned convictions on appeal or pardons of innocence, see N.C.G.S. 15A-148.
  • For convictions followed by a pardon of innocence, refer to N.C.G.S. 15A-149.

Understanding these laws and determining your eligibility can be complex. Scharff Law is here to help you navigate this process and work towards a brighter future.

The Expungement Process

The expungement process itself involves gathering necessary documents, filing a petition with the court, and possibly attending a hearing. You’ll need to provide evidence that you have been law-abiding since your conviction.

This can be a detailed and sometimes lengthy process, but it’s worth it for the chance to have your records expunged.

Petition and Evidence of Good Character

In addition to meeting the waiting period requirements, you must provide evidence of good character. This often includes affidavits from individuals who can attest to your positive behavior and contributions to the community since your conviction.

Filing An Expungement for Your Criminal Record

The expungement petition itself needs to be filed with the appropriate court and must include detailed information about your criminal history, the offense in question, and the reasons you believe you deserve an expungement. They will also pull your records to access your arrest record and other criminal records.

Felony Expungement Hearing

The court will review your petition, and if everything is in order, a hearing may be scheduled. During the hearing, the judge will consider your petition, the evidence presented, and any objections from the district attorney or victims.

Understanding the specifics of North Carolina law and the steps involved in the expungement process is crucial to successfully clearing your record. While the journey may be challenging, the potential benefits of having your record expunged, from improved employment opportunities to the restoration of your reputation, make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Clearing Your Criminal Record Impacts Your Future Life

If the court grants the expungement, your arrest records and conviction will be erased from your public record. You can move forward without the burden of a criminal history.

It’s essential to note that having your record expunged does not automatically restore all rights.

Having a felony expunged from your record can make a significant difference in your life. Many employers conduct background checks, and a clean record can open doors that were previously closed. It’s not just about employment, though. It’s about regaining a sense of normalcy and moving forward without the shadow of a past mistake.

If you have a prior record and are wondering about your eligibility, consulting with an attorney focused on expungement in North Carolina can provide clarity and guidance through this complex process.

Remember, while the road to expungement can be challenging, successfully completing it can lead to a brighter future.

Experienced and Compassionate Legal Help For Expungement

At Scharff Law, we are dedicated to helping individuals in North Carolina navigate the legal complexities of expungement. We understand how crucial a successful expungement petition is to your future, and we are here to provide the experienced and compassionate legal assistance you need.

Our team will guide you through every step of the expungement process, from determining your eligibility to filing the necessary paperwork and representing you in court. We know that each case is unique, so we take the time to understand your specific circumstances and goals.

Whether you’re looking to clear a felony or misdemeanor from your record, we work tirelessly to help you achieve the fresh start you deserve.

If you’re ready to take the first step towards a brighter future, contact Scharff Law today for a free consultation. Together, we can work toward clearing your record and opening new opportunities for your life ahead.