A change to the law regarding North Carolina expungements (known as expunctions) became effective on December 1, 2017. The change, codified in SB 445, made a couple of significant changes in that it reduced the waiting time to expunge non-violent felony and misdemeanor convictions and it allowed for expunction of more than one dismissed charge. The new law also allows expunction of most non-violent misdemeanors after only a five year waiting period, as opposed to the fifteen years previously required. Non-violent felonies can be eligible after ten years without a conviction. The change in the law also expanded the availability of Certificates of Relief, which are designed to relieve folks from civil licensing and other "collateral" consequences of a conviction. These developments are a big positive for people convicted of criminal acts who have changed their lives and seek to be productive citizens.
As most people know, a criminal record can have a devastating affect on a person's ability to find housing and employment. The North Carolina School of Government has a very useful webpage that can clarify all of the potential so-called "collateral consequences" of a criminal conviction.
Even cases that resulted in a dismissal can and should be expunged, because even the fact of a past charge can be prejudicial in some situations! Furthermore, once a Petition is granted, the arresting and jailing agencies (typically the local Sheriff) will be ordered to destroy their records. If the case was dismissed for a reason other than successful completion of a deferral, the courts do not charge a filing fee to expunge the dismissed case. In those situations, the only cost would be a very low fee for our time preparing the petition and following up with the court to ensure it is granted.
Expunction of a criminal conviction is a little more involved and requires the gathering of information and signatures but we keep our fees low for this type of work because we see it as providing a benefit to the community. As a threshhold matter, it is important that anyone seeking an expunction knows that any outstanding court costs, restitution, or civil judgments from a prior conviction will act as a bar to expunction until they are paid in full.
Give us a call if you would like to discuss the possibility of us assisting with an expunction petition related to a past Wake County criminal charge.