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Erase the Past: The Role of Expungement Lawyers

expungement lawyers near me

Many people walk around carrying an invisible weight every day, impacting every step toward a brighter future. This weight comes in the form of a criminal record—a reminder of a past mistake that keeps lingering, affecting job prospects, housing and educational opportunities, and even personal relationships.

But what if there’s a key to unlocking a new chapter, a way to lift that weight and move forward? That key lies in working with the courts to expunge your record. If you think that sounds daunting, you might wonder, “Are there expungement lawyers near me who can help handle the process in North Carolina?”

North Carolina is opening up opportunities for you to work with the best expungement lawyers in the state, no matter which county you live in. Expungement lawyers who specialize in turning the page on your past offer a legal pathway to clear your record and start fresh.

In North Carolina, recent changes to expungement laws have also opened doors for more individuals seeking a second chance. It’s more likely than ever that you have a real chance at expungement in NC. Finding legal help or fully understanding how this process works gives you an even better chance.

So, let’s explore expungement (also called expunction) and the role of expungement lawyers in NC. Discover how you can erase the past and embrace a future filled with possibilities.

Understanding Expungement in North Carolina: A Fresh Start

Embarking on the expungement journey in North Carolina is like navigating a maze, but the reward at the end is invaluable—a chance at a new beginning.

First, know you’re not alone:

“In North Carolina, an estimated 2 million people have criminal records — most containing misdemeanor convictions that don’t come with jail or prison time. More than 30,000 people are in the North Carolina prison system; about 15,000 of them return to the community each year after being released.”

Many individuals feel like this:

“Jessie Thomas is working to become a substance abuse counselor so she can help others who are where she once was. She has completed 74 hours of classes to obtain her peer support certification. 

Recently, she hit a barrier in her quest for a new career: Thomas is a convicted felon. She was released from prison in November after serving almost six years. But even though she’s done her time, she still has to jump through a multitude of hoops to achieve her career goal — if it’s possible at all.

However, expungement in North Carolina offers a legal pathway to erase the record of prior proceedings against you. It’s like hitting the reset button on your life, deleting paper and electronic records of past mistakes, with limited exceptions.

The Legislative Landscape

The North Carolina General Assembly recognizes the profound impact a criminal record can have on a person’s life. It’s been actively expanding the scope of expunction laws to offer more people a second chance.

Key changes, particularly in 2021, significantly expanded opportunities for expunging older convictions of “nonviolent” felonies and misdemeanors under G.S. 15A-145.5.

These amendment improvements aim to streamline the expunction process and make it more accessible to all.

Eligibility Criteria

Understanding if you qualify for expunction involves navigating complex eligibility conditions. While recent legislative actions have broadened eligibility, you must meet specific criteria.

This includes considering the nature of the offense, the age at which you committed the offense, and the passage of time since the conviction.

Dismissed Charges and Not Guilty Verdicts

All charges that the court dismissed or that resulted in a not guilty verdict are eligible for expungement, without limit on the number of dismissals.

Exception: Charges dismissed as part of a plea agreement in which you entered a guilty plea for other charges may not be eligible.

Juvenile Records

Juvenile records for crimes committed under the age of 18 can often be expunged, especially for misdemeanors or undisciplined behavior.

Exception: Severe juvenile felonies, such as those that would be Class A-E felonies if committed by an adult, may not be eligible.

For First-Time Offenses Under the Age of 18/22

First-time misdemeanor offenses you committed before the age of 18 can be expunged.

First-time misdemeanor possession of alcohol charges for individuals under 22 can also be expunged.

Exceptions: Certain offenses, including traffic violations and violent crimes, may not be eligible.

Drug Offenses

First-time drug offenses, including possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, can be eligible for expungement if the individual has no prior convictions.

Exception: Trafficking convictions are not eligible for expungement.

Non-Violent Felony Conviction Or Misdemeanor

Certain non-violent felonies and misdemeanors can be expunged, particularly if the individual has no other convictions.

  • For nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, you’re typically eligible for expungement 5 years after the conviction or the completion of any sentence or probation.
  • If you have multiple nonviolent misdemeanors, the timeline extends to 7 years.
  • For nonviolent felonies, the waiting period is 10 years. However, exceptions based on the nature of the charge or your age at the time could shorten these periods.

The waiting period begins after the conviction and ends at the completion of the sentence, including probation.

Exceptions: Ineligible offenses include violent offenses, sexual offenses, and certain other felonies, such as offenses involving assault as an essential element and offenses requiring sex offender registration.

Prostitution Offenses

Convictions for prostitution can be expunged if the individual has no prior or subsequent convictions and if the conviction was the result of being a trafficking victim.

Exception: This does not apply if the individual has other criminal convictions.

Identity Theft and Pardons

Charges dismissed due to mistaken identity or identity theft are eligible for expungement.

Convictions pardoned by the governor are eligible for expungement.

Gang Offenses

Certain gang-related offenses committed under the age of 18 can be expunged.

Human Trafficking Victims

Victims of human trafficking who have convictions for prostitution or other nonviolent crimes as a direct result of being trafficked may petition for expungement.

This summary provides a broad overview, but consulting a legal professional can help you get the whole story for your specific charges. With detailed eligibility criteria, convoluted procedures for filing for expungement, and changing laws and interpretations, an experienced legal professional can give you the best answer for your case.

The Role of Expunction Lawyers

Here’s where expunction lawyers come into play. They guide you through this legal labyrinth, ensuring you meet the precise statutory conditions for expunction.

Their expertise is not just beneficial but often necessary to successfully navigate the process and achieve a clean slate.

Impact of Expunction

Why go through this process? Expunctions have been shown to boost employment rates and earnings significantly. 

They remove barriers that a criminal record places on employment, education, and other opportunities, offering individuals the chance to fully integrate into society and contribute positively.

A Look Ahead

As we move forward, the landscape of expunction laws in North Carolina continues to evolve, reflecting a growing understanding of the need for second chances. 

With each legislative session, new opportunities arise for those looking to leave their past mistakes behind and embrace a future filled with possibilities. There’s never been a better time to look at whether you have eligibility for expunction.

Navigating the path to expunction might seem daunting, but it’s a journey worth taking. With the right guidance and a clear understanding of the laws, a new chapter awaits.

Ready to turn the page? Expunction might just be your first step towards a brighter future.

Navigating the Expungement Process in North Carolina: Your Path to a Clean Slate

Today’s world doesn’t forget easily, especially when it comes to a criminal record. 

Mistakes from the past can cling to your present, shadowing every step towards a brighter future. But here’s the good news: with the right expungement lawyer, turning the page is possible.

The Journey Begins

In North Carolina, the expungement process offers a legal path to erase or seal records of certain criminal charges or convictions from public view, almost as if they never happened.

Whether it’s a felony, misdemeanor, or juvenile offense, expungement could be your key to a clean criminal record.

Choosing Your Guide: Expungement Lawyers

Not all law firms are created equal, especially when it comes to navigating the complex terrain of criminal records and expungements. An excellent expungement lawyer isn’t just about courtroom prowess; they understand your story and tailor a legal strategy that fits.

Look for attorney profiles that highlight experience with criminal defense and record expungement. Look for success stories in their online reviews. 

The Best Expungement Attorney May Not Be Near You

Many attorneys across the state are beginning to work with clients in almost every county in NC. So, if the best attorney you find is in Raleigh, NC, take a chance on whether they can work with you. A phone call or email can’t hurt when your future life is on the line.

Find the best lawyer for your case to ensure no possibility is left behind. Legal experts know how to work the court system, deal with state agencies and law enforcement agencies, and ensure your expungement petition gets through the red tape.

If you’re considering hiring an attorney, why not look for one who knows what they are doing, regardless of location? 

The Cost of Freedom: Expungement Filing Fee

Freedom from your past comes at a cost, notably the expungement filing fee. While not a deal-breaker, this and attorney fees are an essential part of the journey (unless you can prove indigence).

Some law firms even offer a FREE consultation to discuss your eligibility for an expungement order. The good ones also disclose their associated fees. This transparency is crucial when choosing a law firm or expungement attorney to represent your case.

Navigating the Maze: Expungement Process

The expungement process in North Carolina can feel like navigating a maze, with each turn presenting new legal issues or requirements. Whether it’s misdemeanor records, felony convictions, or juvenile records, each type of criminal history has its path to expungement.

The expungement process begins with the filing of a petition in court. This document requests the expungement of a person’s criminal record, highlighting their eligibility and readiness for a second chance. It’s not an overnight process, and challenges can arise, especially from opposition by law enforcement agencies or differing interpretations of eligibility across different counties.

After the Court Reviews the Petition

Once the court reviews the petition and any objections, a successful expungement culminates in a court order. This order directs state agencies, including the Division of Motor Vehicles and law enforcement agencies, to erase or seal the records, effectively making them invisible to most background checks.

Convictions, arrest records, and even court records could be eligible for expungement, depending on when the conviction happened and the specific circumstances of the criminal offense.

If you want to explore the laws regarding expungement more in-depth before seeing an attorney, you can read them at the NC General Statutes Site. 

What’s Eligible for Expungement?

Not every criminal arrest or conviction can be erased or sealed. “Eligible for expungement” typically means that your criminal case falls under the specific categories defined by state law. We outline some of the highlights above.

Expungement eligibility might include certain misdemeanor records or felony convictions that occurred under particular conditions or juvenile offenses that don’t align with your character today.

Successful completion of the terms set by the court often plays a significant role in determining eligibility.

Expunction Means New Beginnings

Expungement, also called record sealing, doesn’t just hide your past; it can completely erase it from the following:

  • Public records
  • Background checks by employers
  • Scrutiny by government agencies

The effect of having a criminal record expunged is profound. Expunged records are not just sealed but are completely erased from public records, allowing individuals to truthfully claim they have no criminal history in most situations. This can open doors that were previously closed, from employment opportunities to housing and education.

This means that when someone runs a criminal background check, your expunged record won’t show up, and if it does, you can contest it, allowing you a fresh start and the ability to move forward without the weight of past mistakes.

The Final Step: Court Order for Expungement

Obtaining a court order for expungement is the culmination of your journey. This legal document the court issues, confirms that your records have been successfully expunged or sealed. It’s a testament to your perseverance and the skilled advocacy of your expungement lawyer.

Summing Up

In today’s world, where background checks are common, and records linger, expunging records offers a path to redemption. 

With the right legal assistance, including the extensive experience of a seasoned expungement attorney, and the commitment to see the process through, achieving a clean slate is within reach.

If you’re navigating the complexities of starting an expungement case, remember, everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone gets a chance to erase them. Take your first step towards a new chapter today, and don’t let your past define your future.

We Can Help

At Scharff Law Firm, we understand the profound impact a criminal record can have on your life. It’s more than just a legal issue; it’s about your future, your family, and your ability to move forward.

Our dedicated team is committed to guiding you through the expungement process with compassion, understanding, and unparalleled legal acumen.

Scharff Law advocates for your right to a clean slate. Whether you’re dealing with felony convictions, misdemeanor records, or juvenile offenses, we tailor our approach to address your unique situation. Our firm also works diligently across different counties to meet the needs of more individuals.

Our goal is simple: to ensure your expunged records are completely erased or sealed, giving you the freedom to live without the shadow of past mistakes.

From your FREE initial consultation to the final court order, we stand by your side, offering transparent communication, legal assistance, and the support you need to successfully complete this journey.

Let us help you turn the page. Contact us today for your free consultation, and take the first step toward securing your future and achieving the peace of mind that comes with a clean criminal record.