In North Carolina, it may be possible to have your criminal record expunged. Expungement is the process of the state removing your criminal convictions from your permanent record. They will no longer show up in a criminal background check. Getting your criminal record expunged is not easy, but it is worth it. This blog post will discuss the process for filling out an expungement application and what happens after you submit it.
The Waiting Period
There is no need to be restricted by your past indefinitely, as you can apply for an expungement of criminal records. If your cases were dismissed or you were found not guilty in the case, then you might even qualify for immediate expungement!
Depending on your crime, the judgment, and when you committed it, your eligibility to expunge your record varies.
Below you can see whether you have eligibility to apply for expungement of your charges and conviction. If you have:
- One Nonviolent Misdemeanor: 5 years after the date of the conviction or when any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over, you become eligible.
- More than one Nonviolent Misdemeanor: 7 years after the date of the person’s last conviction or 7 years after any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over, you become eligible.
- One Nonviolent Felony: 10 years after the date of the conviction or 10 years after any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over, you become eligible.
- Up to 3 nonviolent Felonies: 20 years after the date of the conviction or 10 years after any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over, you become eligible.
Other juvenile offenses can also be erased from public view after various lengths of time. So if you were under 18 when you faced judgment, the conditions to expunge your record may be more easily accomplished.
NC Courts lay out the applicable statutes so that you can see the law for yourself:
- 15A-145(a) Misdemeanor convictions
- 15A-145.1 Gang offenses
- 15A-145.2(a) Drug offenses dismissed after conditional discharge
- 15A-145.2(b) Drug offenses, dismissed or defendant acquitted
- 15A-145.2(c) Drug or drug paraphernalia convictions
- 15A-145.3(a) Toxic vapors offenses dismissed after conditional discharge
- 15A-145.3(b) Toxic vapors or drug paraphernalia offenses, dismissed or acquitted
- 15A-145.3(c) Toxic vapors convictions
- 15A-145.4 Nonviolent felony under age 18
- 15A-145.5 Nonviolent felony(ies)
- 15A-145.5 Nonviolent misdemeanor(s)
- 15A-145.6 Prostitution offenses
- 15A-146(a) or 15A-146(a1) Criminal charge (or alcohol infraction before 12/1/1999), dismissed not pursuant to deferred prosecution or conditional discharge
- 15A-146(a) or 15A-146(a1) Criminal charge (or alcohol infraction before 12/1/1999), dismissed pursuant to deferred prosecution or conditional discharge (effective 12/1/2014)
- 15A-146(a2) Criminal charge (or alcohol infraction before 12/1/1999), with finding of not guilty or not responsible
- 15A-147(a) Identity Theft – not guilty dismissal or charge set aside by the court
- 15A-147(a1) Dismissal of charges resulting from identity theft or mistaken identification
- 15A-148 DNA records upon appellate reversal of a conviction or upon pardon of innocence
- 15A-149 Conviction after pardoning of innocence
Contact the Clerk Of Court in the County of Conviction
Scharff Law Firm offers a complimentary consultation which includes procuring an informal copy of your criminal record – the first step to starting your journey.
However, review your criminal record yourself by contacting the clerk-of-court in the county where you were convicted and obtaining an official criminal record report or submitting your fingerprints and a background request to the SBI and FBI.
Once you have your criminal record, you must fill out an expungement petition and file it with the clerk-of-court. Once you’ve filed your petition according to the instructions, you may need to also serve a copy of the petition to the district attorney in the county where you were convicted and pay a filing fee.
You might be required to appear at a hearing in front of the judge, who will make the ultimate decision on whether or not your expungement is granted. In some cases, you won’t need an in-person hearing. To begin filing your petition, go to the court in the county where you were convicted.
Filing for an expunction often necessitates additional paperwork, such as affidavits from people who are familiar with you. The petition will include a specified list of what types of supplementary materials you need for your form.
For the quickest turnaround time, it’s best to consult a criminal defense attorney to guide you through the complex laws surrounding an expunction filing. Any mishandling of paperwork could result in a denied petition or require your resubmission.
AFFIDAVITS & APPLICATIONS
As an applicant for expungement, you’ll need to go to the courthouse. Most counties require you to do the following:
- File an affidavit verifying your moral character and affirming that you have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (excluding traffic violations) under the laws of the United States, NC, or any other state during the applicable 5, 7, 10 or 20-year waiting period.
- You must also file an affidavit to confirm that there are no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgments for restitution.
- You must have two individuals not related to you by blood or marriage complete affidavits attesting to your outstanding character and reputation in the community.
- As part of the process, you must also make a statement that declares you are petitioning for a motion in the case where you were convicted.
- To proceed, you must complete an application in which you authorize the court to check for any outstanding warrants or criminal cases and search for confidential records of expunctions.
Depending on the county you live in, there might be some local differences in procedure from one county to the next. The clerk of the superior court can tell you if there are any local practices, such as:
- Obtaining a judge’s signature for requesting criminal record checks (required for several types of expunction)
- Scheduling a hearing (1)
Filing Your Expungement Order Application
When you receive an official expungement order signed by a judge, the clerk-of-court will immediately send out requests for your criminal record to be cleared from state agencies such as NC Department of Public Safety, local law enforcement, and the State Bureau of Investigations. With these departments now updated with your new records reflecting no conviction on your part, justice is truly served!
With ever-evolving laws, managing a criminal charge can be complex. A seasoned criminal defense attorney is the best resource to help you evaluate your eligibility for expungement and navigate through this process. Factors such as the offense’s severity, when it took place, and whether or not you already had an earlier expungement all come into play.
By working with an experienced legal expungement team, you can ensure that your rights are secured under current law. An expungement attorney can help ensure your application is complete and accurate and give you the best chance of a clean record going forward.
You can submit your completed expungement order documentation to the clerk of the superior court in your county, who will forward it to both the Department of Public Safety and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The district attorney will reach out to the victim of your crime, if applicable, in order to inform them of your petition for expunction. The victim has the right and opportunity to be present at any hearing that discusses what happened. The court considers the victim’s opinion in the hearing.
You will be notified of any hearings and have the right to attend them. To get a full picture, the judge may request an investigation or confirmation from your probation officer about how you conducted yourself after conviction.
The court then reviews any other information that they deem relevant, such as:
- Testimony provided by law enforcement officers
- Views of the district attorney
- Thoughts of any victims of crimes you committed
Paying the Filing Fee
There is generally a $175 filing fee to petition for an expunction. A few expunction statutes do not require a fee, like the expunction of some dismissed charges or resulting in a “not guilty” verdict, (unless based on the completion of a diversion program or deferred prosecution agreement.) If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you can ask to file without paying the fee by using this form. (2)
Your Offense Request Decision
After hearing your petition for expunction, the court may grant you a restoration of your former status before your arrest or indictment. Despite this possibility, the court can still deny your request for an expunction due to many elements. These considerations are comprehensive and dependent on specific regulations outlined in North Carolina law.
The legislation of the state no longer places a restriction on how many expungements of dismissed or not guilty charges an individual may receive at one time. However, there are time restrictions for waiting periods for expunging convictions. It is also essential that you include every eligible conviction, as you can only petition one time to expunge convictions. If you miss any, they will be on your record permanently.
Upon fulfilling all the conditions necessary for expunction, you could have your record cleared and begin a new chapter in life unencumbered by criminal history. By taking advantage of this opportunity, it would be as if you had never been convicted at all!
Our Experienced Expungement Attorneys Can Help
At Scharff Law, our expunction attorneys understand the complexity of the process and can help you navigate every step along the way. Our team is here to help guide you through a successful application for an expunction so that your criminal record can be cleared.
Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you in your expungement application process. We look forward to helping you move on and obtain a clean slate and a bright future!