My law firm handles a lot of expungement work. If you have been charged with a crime (or if you know someone who was ever charged with a crime) you should understand the rules for expungements in North Carolina. There are two important types of expungements out there: (1) expungements for dismissed cases and (2) expungements for that one minor charge on your record that happened a long time ago.
My case was dismissed. Is there still a record?
Yes! Even if your case was dismissed a record remains visible for everyone to see forever unless it is expunged. There is no procedure to automatically expunge a dismissed case. The record stays visible forever. If you were charged with possession of marijuana (or any other charge imaginable) and the case was dismissed there will be a record visible to everyone that says essentially "possession of a schedule VI controlled substance - case dismissed." Anyone who sees your record will have immediate questions about why you were charged with possession of a controlled substance. In the employment context it makes for a horrible first impression for prospective employers.
How does it work to expunge a dismissed case?
Generally, everyone in North Carolina can have any dismissed case (or not guilty verdict) expunged once in their lifetime. You can pretty much get rid of anything you want as long as the case was dismissed or you were found not-guilty. You file a petition and after around six months the records are erased.
I just had that one stupid crime and it's been a long time...
If you pled guilty to one minor crime or were found guilty of one minor crime and it's been 15 years without another charge then you may be eligible to have the criminal record expunged. The North Carolina Legislature has essentially said that if you have one minor criminal charge on your record and have stayed out of trouble for fifteen years then you can apply for an expungement of that charge.
How does it work to get rid of that old conviction?
You need to provide some affidavits and affidavits from people who will attest to your good moral character in addition to the expungement petition. If you qualify for an expungement of that old criminal conviction there is a good possibility you can have the charge erased.
What is the effect of an expungement?
An order granting a petition for an expungement has two basic effects. One, it requires deletion of records about the case. Two, it seeks to restore the petitioner to the status he or she had before the criminal proceedings occurred. The deletion requirement applies to North Carolina's courts, state and local law enforcement agencies, other government agencies, and certain organizations in the business of providing criminal history information. The expunction statutes express in various ways the principle that an expunction restores a person's status as if the proceeding had not occurred. Most expunction statutes state this principle explicitly. Most also state that a person who receives an expunction may not thereafter be held under any provision of law to be guilty of perjury for failing to acknowledge the expunged criminal proceedings.
How do I move forward with an expungement?
There are dozens of other ways to have charges expunged. A lot of good options are available for charges that happened when the petitioner was 21 and younger. If you would like a free consultation about whether you qualify for an expungement or if you would like to know whether someone else qualifies for an expungement then please contact my law office at 919-585-1486. You can speak to an expungement lawyer who will walk you through the process and explain your options.