Many people who seek to have records of their charges expunged do not fit into the narrow categories available to have their charges expunged. If a criminal conviction is preventing you from gaining employment or hurting you in some other way a "certificate of relief" could be the thing to get you moving forward with your life. Call to speak with an attorney at the law offices of Wiley Nickel at 919-585-486 for a free consultation to see if a certificate of relief can help where an expungement cannot help.
The basic requirements for relief, contained in new G.S. 15A-173.2 for a "certificate of relief" are as follows:
- The person must have been convicted of no more than two Class G, H, or I felonies or misdemeanors in one session of court and have no other convictions for a felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic violation.
- The person must petition the court in which the convictions occurred (District or Superior Court)
- The person must establish certain matters by a preponderance of the evidence, including that twelve months have passed since the person completed his or her sentence, that the person is engaged in or is seeking to engage in a lawful occupation or activity, and that the person has no charges pending.
If granted, a certificate of relief applies to two types of collateral consequences: “collateral sanctions,” defined as a penalty, disability, or disqualification imposed by operation of law, such as a mandatory bar on obtaining a license for a particular occupation; and “disqualifications,” defined as a penalty that an agency, official, or court may impose based on the conviction, such as a discretionary bar on an occupational license. A certificate of relief relieves the person of all automatic “collateral sanctions” except for those listed in new G.S. 15A-173.3 (for example, sex offender registration requirements and firearm disqualifications); those imposed by the North Carolina Constitution or federal law (for example, the state constitutional ban on holding the office of sheriff if previously convicted of a felony and the federal bans on federally-assisted housing and food stamp benefits for certain convictions); and those specifically excluded in the certificate. A certificate of relief does not bar an entity from imposing a discretionary “disqualification” based on the conviction, but the entity may consider the certificate favorably in deciding whether to impose the disqualification. A certificate of relief also does not result in an expunction or pardon of the conviction; a person must use other mechanisms, if available for the conviction in question, to obtain those forms of relief.