Does a criminal record in North Carolina weigh you down? Have past mistakes continued to haunt your personal and professional life? If so, there’s hope for a fresh start. The state of North Carolina offers a legal process called expungement, which allows certain individuals to have their criminal records erased or sealed from public view. This blog post aims to guide you through the petition for expungement process in North Carolina.
We’ll provide you with the knowledge and resources necessary to start your journey toward a clean slate. Whether you’re seeking employment, housing, or peace of mind, understanding the expungement process is crucial to reclaiming your future.
Let’s delve into the details and find out how you can successfully petition for expungement in North Carolina.
Waiting the Proper Amount of Time Before Filing
Depending on your case, you can seek expungement for criminal records. If you received a dismissal or acquittal as a person not criminally responsible, your case may be eligible for immediate expungement!
Your eligibility to expunge your record varies based on the nature of the offense, the court’s decision, and the timing of the incident.
These are examples of when you can generally file a successful petition:
- 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.
Additionally, some juvenile offenses may have eligible guilty dispositions beyond those listed above. You may also be able to conceal records from public visibility after a time. So if you were under 18 years old at the time of a judgment, then the court may accept fewer requirements to expunge your record.
Talk with an experienced defense attorney in North Carolina to better understand your rights.
NC Courts make the statutes regarding expungement, also called expunction, available to everyone online. You can read more at the link. However, talking with a defense attorney experienced in expungement law in North Carolina can help you understand what is possible in your case.
Ensure that you observe the waiting periods for expunging convictions. Understand when you become eligible for an expunction before filing your petition. Talk with your criminal defense attorney to get a better idea of how to get started with this process.
Start Your Case With an Easy (and Free!) First Step
At Scharff Law, we offer a free first consultation to help you get started. This includes complimentary help to obtain an informal duplicate of your criminal record. The first step to filing a petition is obtaining a copy of your record.
However, if you’d rather DIY, get in touch with the clerk-of-court in the county of your conviction and do one of two things depending on your county:
- Acquire an official criminal record report
- Submit your fingerprints and a background request to the SBI and FBI
After acquiring your criminal record, you’ll complete an expungement petition and submit it to the clerk-of-court.
Submit Your Expungement Petition
You can find a petition at the NC Courts site. Ensure that you carefully adhere to the provided instructions while filing your petition.
Additionally, it may be necessary to serve a copy of the petition to the district attorney in the county of conviction and pay the relevant filing fee.
Filing for an expunction often also involves submitting supplementary documentation. This may include affidavits from individuals familiar with your situation. The petition will provide a specific list detailing the required additional materials for your application.
To ensure a prompt turnaround time, seek guidance from a criminal defense attorney who can navigate the intricacies of expunction laws. Mishandling of paperwork can lead to a denied petition or necessitate resubmission.
Petition for Expungement: Filing Your Application
When filing for expunction, you’ll need to go to the courthouse. Most counties in North Carolina require 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.
- File an affidavit to confirm that there are no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgments for restitution.
- Two complete affidavits attesting to your outstanding character and reputation in the community. Two individuals unrelated to you by blood or marriage must write these.
- Make a statement that declares you are petitioning for a motion in the case where the court convicted you.
- Complete an application authorizing the court to check for outstanding warrants or criminal cases
- Give permission for the court to search for confidential records of expunctions.
Different Counties, Different Procedures
Depending on your county, there might be some local differences in procedure from one county to the next. You can find the locations and information about the courts in each county on this NC Courts website, along with the form types you may need for your county.
The clerk of the superior court can tell you if there are any local practices. Some counties use eservices more often, while others rely on pen and paper. Some requirements that may vary include the following:
- Obtain a judge’s signature to request your criminal record checks
- More copies of documents submitted to different governing units
- Schedule a hearing (1)
Is It Necessary to Attend a Hearing?
In certain instances, you may need to attend a hearing before a judge who can grant or deny your expungement request.
If there was a victim in your crime, the district attorney will inform them of your petition for expunction. The victim may then choose to be a part of any hearing where the judge will consider their opinion.
You will receive a notification if there is a hearing. You have the right to attend any hearings also. And a judge may request a statement from your probation officer about your conduct since the conviction.
The court then reviews relevant information, including the following:
- Testimony provided by law enforcement officers
- Views of the district attorney
- Thoughts of any victims of your crimes
Do You Have to Pay the Filing Fee?
A court fee for your expungement generally will cost you $175 for filing an expunction petition However, dismissed or “not guilty” charges do not require you to pay. (If you received an acquittal for completion of a diversion program or deferred prosecution agreement, you do pay.)
If you can’t pay the fee, you file online using the form Petition To Proceed As An Indigent at the page link.
No More Criminal Record? Final Disposition
Once you submit your petition for expunction, the court may restore your former “no criminal background” status.
However, there are several factors that the court takes into account before granting or denying your request for an expunction. These factors rely on specific guidelines outlined in North Carolina law. One newer law is that there are no longer any restrictions on how many expungements for “dismissed” or “not guilty” charges you may receive at one time.
Include every eligible conviction in your petition since you can only petition once 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!
Receiving Your All Clear
Your official expungement order comes signed by a judge. You can submit your completed expungement order documentation to the clerk of the superior court in your county, who will then notify the appropriate state agencies, including the following:
- NC Department of Public Safety
- Administrative Office of the Courts
- Local county law enforcement
- State Bureau of Investigations.
Your records have been updated and now accurately reflect that you have no convictions.
In constantly evolving legislation, addressing a criminal charge can prove complex. Opting for the guidance of a seasoned attorney well-versed in criminal defense offers the most optimal skillfully navigating this multifaceted procedure.
Factors that weigh in on the process include:
- The gravity of the offense
- The timeframe of its occurrence
- Any previous instances of expungement
Through collaboration with an experienced expungement team, you can ensure the completion and accuracy of your application.
EXPERIENCED EXPUNGEMENT ATTORNEYS
At Scharff Law, our expunction attorneys have a deep understanding of expunction in North Carolina, enabling us to steer you through the process to a clean record! Our dedicated team stands ready to offer comprehensive support to help you submit your successful expunction application.
Get in touch today for your complimentary consultation. With our help, you can wipe the slate clean and find hope for your future again.