A criminal record can affect your ability to secure a job, find housing, become a U.S. citizen, and even vote. However, one solution to this problem is criminal record expungement, which removes a case from your file in some situations. If you want to alter your record, you may have many questions about this process. To help you understand how this works, here’s a quick guide to some of the questions people often have about expungement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Expungement in North Carolina
What is it?
Sometimes called "expunction," this is a court-sanctioned process in which a conviction or arrest is erased from your legal record. It is different from a "pardon" in that the petitioner, if successful, can act as if the event never occurred, while a pardon is merely a forgiveness for the conviction that may still be on file.
What’s the difference between expunging & sealing your record?
Sealing a record prevents lawyers, judges, and others from viewing your background, while expunging erases it entirely. However, background information can be sold in the open market to employers, credit reporting agencies, and other entities, so even after sealing or expungement, a secondary record may still resurface.
Who can expunge a record?
Not everybody is eligible for criminal expungement. For instance, if you have multiple felony convictions or have been convicted of a serious or violent crime, you may encounter difficulty having the record expunged. This includes cases involving murder, aggravated assault, rape, and child pornography.
You are more likely to be eligible for this process if you’ve served your sentence, are not a repeat offender, haven’t been arrested since your release, and have since practiced self-improvement such as continuing your education or working a job.
How can you expunge a misdemeanor?
In 2017, a bill made expungement in NC much easier for non-violent crimes. For a misdemeanor, you must now only wait five years instead of the previous 15 to clear your record if you were declared not guilty.
To do this, you must file a petition at the courthouse of the county where the charges occurred. Fees depend on the charge and the outcome of the case. For instance, dismissals and not-guilty verdicts are free. Note that DWI convictions are not eligible for expungement.
How can you expunge a felony?
Felony charges can be expunged ten years after a case is closed, but only if it was dismissed or returned a not-guilty verdict. For guilty verdicts, the waiting period depends on your age and the severity of the crime. To proceed, you’ll also need to visit the courthouse that managed your case.
For help with an expungement on your criminal record, contact Moore Law Trial Lawyers in Rocky Mount, NC. They have been helping clients in and around Edgecombe and Nash counties for more than 20 years. They assist with expunging old records or defending you from new charges. Visit their website to learn more about their practice areas or call (252) 443-2468 to schedule a consultation.