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Expungement Cost: Paying for a Clean Record in NC

expungement cost

If you’re carrying a weight around every day, one that impacts your job prospects, housing opportunities, and even your social relationships, then you know the reality of a criminal record. But what if I told you there’s a way to lighten that load? Here in North Carolina, expungement can be that lifeline—removing certain offenses from your record and offering you a fresh start.

The journey to expungement, however, comes with its own set of questions and concerns, the most pressing of which often revolves around cost. How much will it set you back? Is it worth the investment? We understand these worries, and that’s why we’re diving into the topic of “Expungement Cost: What to Expect in NC.”

This blog is your go-to guide, crafted to illuminate the financial aspect of clearing your record. We aim to walk you through the process, demystifying costs and offering insights on how to navigate this path efficiently. 

So, let’s embark on this journey together, stepping toward a brighter, lighter future.

Understanding Expungement in NC

Embarking on the journey to clear your name in North Carolina can feel daunting, but it’s a path well worth exploring. 

Let’s break down what expungement means for you, the eligibility criteria, and just how this legal eraser can turn your past mistakes into nothing but a memory.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is your legal superhero, sweeping in to remove or seal a conviction or charge from your record as if it never happened. 

Picture this: one day, your criminal record is a closed book that no employer, landlord, or financial institution can read. That’s the power of expungement.

Whether it’s a misdemeanor you wish you could forget or a felony that feels like a constant shadow, expungement can offer a fresh start.

Eligibility: The Golden Ticket

Not everyone can press the magical expungement button. Your eligibility depends on several factors, such as the type of crime, your age at the time, and the outcome of your case. 

Here’s a quick rundown:

For Misdemeanors and Non-Violent Felonies: If you were under 18 or 21 when the offense occurred, or if your charge was dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict, the doors to expungement are generally wide open.

For Multiple Convictions: Recent laws, including the Second Chance Act, have expanded eligibility, allowing for more convictions to be expunged, especially if they’re non-violent.

The Path to Clearing Your Record

The journey to expungement is a marathon, not a sprint. 

It begins with understanding your eligibility, gathering necessary documents, and navigating through North Carolina’s legal labyrinth.

But you’re not running this race alone. Expungement attorneys can be invaluable allies, helping to streamline the process, advise on eligibility, and handle the heavy lifting of legal paperwork.

A Second Chance Awaits

North Carolina’s recent legal changes have made expungement more accessible, reflecting a broader understanding of justice and rehabilitation.

If you’re dreaming of a future unmarred by past mistakes, expungement might just be the key to unlocking that door. Whether you’re eligible under new guidelines or finding hope in expanded criteria for non-violent offenses, the possibility of a clean slate is more than just a dream—it’s a reality waiting to be grasped.

Expungement isn’t just about erasing a record; it’s about offering a second chance to those who’ve shown they’re ready to move forward. 

With the right information, guidance, and legal support, you can navigate the expungement process and step into a brighter future, leaving the shadow of your past firmly behind you.

Let’s delve into the next section of our guide, focusing on the nuts and bolts of the expungement process in North Carolina, particularly the costs involved. 

This section aims to arm you with a clear understanding of the financial aspect of getting your record expunged.

Breakdown of Expungement Cost in North Carolina

When considering expungement, one of the first questions you might have is, “How much is this going to cost me?” 

Let’s unpack the costs associated with expunging your record in North Carolina so there are no surprises down the road.

Filing Fees: The Entry Ticket

The journey to expungement starts with filing fees. Think of this expungement cost as your entry ticket to the process.

In North Carolina, the filing fee for an expungement petition can vary, but generally, you’re looking at around $175. If your case was dismissed outright or resulted in a not guilty verdict, then congratulations- there are no filing fees for your expungement. 

When required, the filing fee is paid to the clerk’s office in the county where you’re filing the petition. Remember, this fee is just the starting point, and there could be additional costs depending on your case’s specifics.

Attorney Fees: Your Guide to a Fresh Start

Hiring an expungement lawyer isn’t mandatory, but it can make a world of difference. These legal guides can navigate the complex waters of expungement law, ensuring your petition is filed correctly and efficiently.

The cost of hiring an expungement attorney varies widely based on the complexity of your case and the attorney’s experience. While some may offer flat rates for expungement cases, others might charge by the hour. Investing in a skilled attorney can ultimately save you time and increase the likelihood of getting your record expunged.

Additional Costs: The Extras on the Journey

Beyond the filing fee and potential attorney fees, there may be other costs to consider:

Certified Copies: You might need certified copies of your expunged record for your records, which come with a small fee per copy.

Restitution: In order to be eligible to expunge a conviction, you must have completely paid any restitution that you owe for the case. This comes up most often with theft crimes where there is a victim who is owed money. Those restitution payments must be paid in full before you are eligible for expungement. 

Total Cost: Adding It All Up

When you add the filing fee, attorney fees, and any additional costs, the total cost of expungement in North Carolina can range significantly.

While the base fee might start around $175, the total can climb based on the legal work required and any extra steps your case necessitates.

It’s clear that expunging your record isn’t free, but it’s an investment in your future. A clean slate can open doors that were previously closed, offering you a fresh start and the freedom to pursue opportunities without the shadow of your past.

As you consider expungement, think of the costs as stepping stones to a brighter future. While there are expenses involved, the value of having your record cleared can far outweigh these initial financial outlays.

Whether it’s gaining employment, furthering your education, or simply moving on with your life, expungement offers a path to reclaim your story and start anew.

Tips for Managing Expungement Costs

Navigating the financial aspects of getting your criminal records expunged can feel overwhelming. However, with the right approach and a bit of insider knowledge, you can manage the costs without breaking the bank. 

Let’s dive into some practical tips to help you secure that fresh start without undue financial stress.

Understand the Full Scope

Before diving in, get a clear picture of all potential costs, from filing fees to possible expungement lawyer charges. 

First, call attorneys, such as the Scharff Law Firm, who offer a free initial consultation. That way, you can find out general fee schedules before hiring them to get your records expunged.

Knowing what to expect can help you budget effectively. Don’t forget to factor in the possibility of additional costs, like obtaining a certified copy of court records or any other expenses.

Seek Out Flat-Fee Lawyers

Some expungement lawyers, such as the Scharff Law Firm, offer flat-fee services, which can significantly simplify budgeting for your expungement.

This fee structure ensures you know the total attorney cost upfront, helping you avoid any surprises. Shop around, and don’t hesitate to ask about payment structures when consulting with potential lawyers.

Fee Waivers and Reduced Costs

If the expungement cost feels prohibitive, explore options for fee waivers. If you can demonstrate financial hardship, courts will waive the filing fee for your expungement petition.

DIY Where Possible

For straightforward cases, such as a non-conviction case or if the charges were dismissed, you might be able to handle the expungement process yourself.

While navigating court documents and legal requirements can seem daunting, you may find online or in-person resources available to guide you through a DIY expungement.

However, sending in incomplete documents or making inaccurate statements can result in your expungement being rejected. So, it’s crucial to understand what you’re doing when you DIY.

This approach can save you attorney fees, but it’s essential to ensure you fully understand the process to avoid costly missteps.

Plan for Payment

See an attorney who offers a free initial consultation. Some, such as Scharff Law, will even pull your criminal record for free. And during the FREE initial consultation, you get a chance to find out how the fee structure works.

Once you understand the costs, ask about payment plans or installment options. Many lawyers are willing to work with clients to make legal services more accessible. Setting aside a little money each month in preparation for expungement services can also make a lump sum fee more manageable when it’s time to pay.

Keep the End Goal in Sight

As you navigate the expungement process and its associated costs, keep your eyes on the prize—a clean slate. The benefits of expungement, from increased job opportunities and salary to a sense of personal freedom, often outweigh the financial and time investments required to achieve it.

Remember, expunging your record is not just about erasing past convictions; it’s about paving the way for a brighter future.

By managing the costs effectively and leveraging the resources available to you, you can take this significant step toward a fresh start without undue financial burden.

We Can Help: Your Path to Expunged Records with Scharff Law Firm

Navigating the expungement process can often feel like wandering through a maze without a map. But with Scharff Law Firm at your side, you have a guide who knows every twist and turn.

We’re not just here to lead the way; we’re here to make your journey toward a clean slate as smooth as possible.

Free Initial Consultation: Understanding Your Needs

We start by listening to your story during our free initial consultation. Whether you’re dealing with a misdemeanor conviction or facing the weight of felony convictions, we want to hear from you.

We are also happy to pull your criminal records for you. So whether you decide to hire us or not, that’s one step we take care of for free!

This meeting is not just about us getting to know your case; it’s about you getting to know us, understanding how we work, and feeling confident in our hands.

Transparent Pricing: No Surprises

Worried about expungement fees? Let those worries fade away. We believe in transparent pricing, ensuring you know exactly what to expect when it comes to costs.

No hidden fees, no unexpected charges—just straightforward, honest pricing that respects your budget and your desire for a fresh start.

Comprehensive Support: Beyond Just Filing

Our support goes beyond just filing your expungement petition. From helping you gather arrest records and court documents to navigating any additional requirements, we’re with you every step of the way.

We understand the ins and outs of the court system across counties in North Carolina, and we use that knowledge to streamline your expungement process.

Experienced Partners in Law: Maximizing Your Chances

Expungement law can be complex, but our experience makes it manageable. We stay up-to-date on the latest changes and nuances in the law to ensure your petition is as strong as possible.

Whether your case involves misdemeanor convictions, felony charges, or a mix of both, we tailor our approach to suit your unique situation, maximizing your chances of getting your record expunged.

The Scharff Law Firm Difference: A Partner in Your Corner

At Scharff Law Firm, we see ourselves as more than just your attorneys—we’re your partners in securing a brighter future. We believe everyone deserves a second chance, and we’re committed to making that belief a reality for our clients.

We work diligently, not just to expunge your record but to restore your peace of mind and open doors to new opportunities.

Ready for Your Chance at a Criminal Record Expungement?

Are you ready to leave the past where it belongs and step into a future unburdened by your record? 

We’re here to help make that transition as smooth and straightforward as possible. With Scharff Law Firm, you’re not just paying for legal services; you’re investing in a fresh start, a new chapter, and a brighter tomorrow.

Reach out to us today for a free consultation. Let’s start this journey together towards the future you deserve.