Is your criminal record holding you back from finding a job or getting into the school of your choice? Even if your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, prospective employers, schools or anyone else who runs a criminal background check on you is still able to see your record. Fortunately, recent changes to North Carolina expungement laws may enable you to clean your criminal record, effectively allowing you to truthfully tell potential employers and schools that you do not have one. Until recently, only certain misdemeanor charges and convictions, or charges associated with identity fraud, were eligible to be expunged. However, with the updated expungement laws, even people with felony drug possession convictions may be eligible for expunction.
Expungement (or expunction) is the legal process in which someone obtains a court order erasing their criminal charge, arrest or even occasionally a conviction. Keep in mind though, that in North Carolina you are only allowed one expungement in you lifetime. Although, in certain circumstances where you received multiple charges on the same date for one event, those charges may be eligible to be combined for expungement.
The categories of charges which may be eligible for expungement include:
- A charge that was dismissed or you were found “not guilty”;
- A first-time misdemeanor committed before turning 18 as long as you have stayed out of trouble for at least two years since the conviction;
- A single, non-violent felony committed before turning 18 as long as four years have passed since your conviction or completion of your sentence and completion of 100 hours of community service;
- A single misdemeanor alcohol or drug possession conviction (and possibly even a felony drug conviction) if you were under 21 and with completion of a drug education program; and
- Cases of mistaken identity are now automatically expunged and are not limited to one per lifetime.
Please be aware that the expungement process may take six to nine months from the time your petition is filed. Once your petition is filed, it will be reviewed by a judge and sent to the SBI to perform a detailed background check to determine whether you qualify for the expungement.
Call our experienced Raleigh criminal attorneys today to help you protect your reputation and start rebuilding your life through the legal process of expungement as soon as possible. Even if you’re not sure if you are eligible for expungement, you should consult a North Carolina attorney experienced with the legal process to find out which remedies may be available to you.