NC CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNCTIONS
Every New Years, people spend countless hours making resolutions they want to keep for the next year. From eating better or exercising more, to quitting smoking or drinking, people always equate the new year with an opportunity to improve their lives. This year, why not consider a fresh start free from any criminal records?
WHAT IS AN EXPUNCTION?
Every time a person is charged with a crime, there are records created by law enforcement agencies, the courts and the State of North Carolina that contains information regarding that crime. This information goes beyond the criminal offense; often including specific details about the alleged crime including names, dates, amounts and other sensitive information. This information is retained by the courts regardless of the disposition of the charge!
An expunction, also called an expungement, is the “total destruction” of any and all of these records relating to a criminal offense.
WHY GET AN EXPUNCTION?
Whenever a person applies for a new job, a new home or apartment, or one of many types of various state and federal licenses, that person is often asked about their criminal history. Now, many other entities, including schools, colleges, universities, and various non-profit organizations will also inquire into a person’s criminal history.
A person’s criminal history will show every time that a person has been charged with a crime. Not just a conviction, but every offense a person has been charged with (excluding juvenile offenses) may appear on these background checks.
WHAT CAN BE EXPUNGED?
North Carolina law allows for the expunction of many different types of criminal offenses. Some offenses, such as juvenile offenses or certain offenses committed before a higher age may be eligible under a special provision of the expunction laws. The most common expungements, however, are for convictions and charges that were dismissed.
Recent changes in the expunction laws have drastically increased the eligibility for those seeking an expunction. This means that you may now be eligible to have a conviction, even a felony conviction, removed from your criminal background.
The biggest change is the shortening of the waiting period. Previously, a person needed to wait fifteen (15) years before they could seek an expunction. Now, the law allows a misdemeanor conviction to be eligible after only five (5) years! A felony conviction may be eligible after only ten (10) years! This is a huge improvement over the prior laws.
DISMISSALS & NOT GUILTY FINDINGS
Just because a charge was dismissed DOES NOT mean the record of that charge is erased. A record is kept for every single criminal offense, regardless of the disposition. The fact that a person has even been charged with an offense can still create difficulties in finding work, housing and educational opportunities. However, the new expunction laws have fixed this issue!
Perhaps the most important change is the elimination of the one-time expunction rule. Now, a person may be eligible for an unlimited number of expunctions where the charge(s) was dismissed or where the person was found not guilty! This change also applies to all criminal charges, regardless of their age; and even allows a person who has already sought an expunction the opportunity to clear their record.
As we start the “Roaring 20’s,” why not take the “New Year, New Me” mantra to heart. If you or a loved one is seeking a fresh start this new year, free of the collateral consequences of a criminal record, give us a call today. We offer free criminal consultations and low flat fees.
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