When you have a criminal record, getting a job or finding an apartment can be difficult. Even applying for financial aid or financing a car can be next to impossible. However, because of recent North Carolina law changes, you don’t have to be limited by your past forever. The waiting period to apply for expungement of criminal records is shorter than ever before.
More good news if you have multiple criminal convictions: State law has expanded how many convictions a person may expunge.
And even more good news! If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or class H or I felony crime that you committed prior to December 1, 2019 and you were either 16 or 17 years old at the time, you can likely expunge that conviction.
At Scharff Law, we understand that you have the right to live a life just like everyone else. No one deserves to have their past determine their future. When you are ready to move forward and be free of your criminal record, we are here to guide you from start to finish.
A Fresh Start
An expungement effectively removes your criminal arrest, charge, and/or conviction record and destroys the public record.
After a record is expunged, you can truthfully answer “No” to employment applications that ask if you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. With expungement, you can also answer “No” in a court of law if asked if you have a criminal record.
Depending on your crime, how old you were at the time, and when your sentence was completed, your eligibility varies. If your case was outright dismissed or you were found not guilty, you are eligible for immediate expungement. The law recently changed allowing anyone with dismissed and not guilty charges to expunge them, no matter what else is on their criminal record. There is no limit to the number of dismissed and not guilty charges that you can expunge. It is still critical to expunge charges that were dismissed or where you were found not guilty as these will continue to appear on your criminal background record and will often still impact your ability to find employment, housing, school, etc. Contact us to inquire about expunging dismissed and not guilty charges from your record.
As attorneys experienced in walking countless people just like you through the process of expungement, let us help you through the extensive affidavits, motions, and potential hearings you may need to face so that you can move on to living in complete freedom again.
Expungement Application Timeline
There is a legal timeline that determines when best to apply for expungement of records in each individual case. For nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, expungement is generally available 5 years after the date of the conviction or when any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over.
If you have more than one nonviolent misdemeanor, we can help you apply for expungement 7 years after the date of your last conviction or 7 years after any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over.
If you have a nonviolent felony on your record, application can be made for expungement 10 years after the date of the conviction or 10 years after any sentence, probation, or post-release supervision is over.
However, there are exceptions to these guidelines which can shorten the period based on the nature of the charge and how old you were at the time. Therefore we encourage you to contact us to assist you in determining your expungement eligibility as soon as possible.
The Process of Expungement
Because of the complexity of the laws surrounding a filing for expungement, contact us to walk you through the process for a quick turnaround time. We want to be sure you avoid any pitfalls or mistakes that could cause your petition to be denied or sent back to you for correction. With your permission, we will run your criminal background and provide you information about your expungement eligibility as part of a free consultation.
There are many steps in the process to expunge non-violent misdemeanors and felonies, described in more detail below.
File the Affidavits
The first part of the process involves signing an affidavit stating that you have good moral character and have not been convicted of any other felony or misdemeanor, other than a traffic violation during the applicable waiting period, and that you have no restitution orders or civil judgments for restitution that are still outstanding. We will provide you with this affidavit, answer any questions you have, and file it for you with the expungement petition.
This basically means that we are ready to walk you through the process of filing an affidavit with well-thought out answers to help you qualify for an expungement. We look at all angles and consider any legal issues you may have before filing the affidavit. It’s best to be prepared and take care of any outstanding issues before you file.
Another part of the process involves finding two people who are not related to you or each other by blood or marriage who will file affidavits stating that they know your character and reputation in your community and that your character and reputation are good.
Again, as experienced expungement attorneys, we will provide these affidavit templates, answer any questions you have, and walk you through the process of deciding who should be your reputation filers. We will then collect these affidavits and file them with the petition to expunge your convictions.
Petition for Motion
The next part of the process is making a statement that you are petitioning a motion in the case where you were convicted and that you authorize the court to do a background check on you to discover any outstanding warrants on pending criminal cases and to search for any other confidential records of expunctions.
Making this statement truthfully while knowing what your background check will bring up is crucial. You don’t want to lose out on expungement of your criminal record because you didn’t realize something that happened 6 years ago was relevant. As your attorney, we know the laws and can help you navigate this part of the expungement process.
Filing Your Application
After we’ve collected your affidavits, we will file your application with the clerk of superior court and serve the petition on the district attorney. A judge will review your request and the application will be sent to the State Bureau of Investigation for your background check to be completed. The entire application will then be sent to the Administrative Office of the Courts to verify if you have had prior convictions expunged. Finally, the application will be returned to the local judge for a final ruling on your expungement request.
As your attorney, we let you know everything that is happening with your file. We stay on top of the filing so that you don’t have to worry about what is going on. If there is a delay due to processing, we let you know as soon as we know.
The court, after reviewing your petition for expungement may order that you be restored to the status you occupied before the arrest or indictment. However, there are many reasons that the court may find you ineligible for an expungement. This is where having an experienced and knowledgeable expungement attorney is crucial in order to get ahead of these issues. Expungement cases are not simple and they depend on precise matters of North Carolina law which are constantly evolving.
You Can Be Free Again
If you meet all of the requirements for expunction, it is possible to have your record expunged and move forward with your life as if you had not committed the crime you were convicted for. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials will retain access to all records, but companies that sell your background information to businesses can be liable for reporting an expunged conviction.
We Can Help
At Scharff Law, we want to help you through the process of getting your record expunged. It is not an easy application process and there are multiple requirements that if not met can exclude you from receiving expunction. Let us walk you through the process and give you the best possible chance at a life free from your criminal record. Contact us today for a free consultation about your expungement eligibility and get started with your application.