Raleigh Criminal Record Expungement Lawyers
Even after you have served time and paid high fines for a criminal offense, there are still repercussions you must contend with due to the fact that the crime is still on your permanent record. A conviction or even an arrest on your criminal record can prevent you from obtaining employment, housing, and even academic opportunities. For this reason, many people want to get their criminal record expunged. To learn whether this is an option for you, contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable expungement lawyer.
What Does Expunge Mean?
An expunction is the legal process through which a criminal charge, and in some circumstances even a conviction, is removed from your criminal record. An expunction may be applied for even if the case is several years old.
There are a number of circumstances in which someone may apply for an expunction. To discuss the specific circumstances of your case, contact an expungement lawyer from Kurtz & Blum now.
What Do You Need to Begin the Expungement Process?
The expungement process begins with filling out a petition form found on the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s website. There, you can find a list of offenses for which expungements are available.
These forms are very detailed, requiring information such as:
- Name and address of arresting agency and other government agencies that have a record of your case
- File number, offense description, disposition, and dates of offense, arrest, and disposition/conviction
- Personal information such as your driver’s license number and Social Security number
You may also be required to provide affidavits that you have been of good behavior and have no restitution orders or civil judgments outstanding, as well as character affidavits.
Your attorney will ensure the paperwork is filled out correctly and will file your petition with the proper court. The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will review it and conduct a search on your criminal history. The SBI will also request any additional documents needed.
What Criminal Records Can Be Expunged in North Carolina?
The recent Second Chance Act significantly broadens expungement opportunities for many offenders. In particular, those with multiple, nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offense, and certain drug offenders will benefit greatly from the Second Chance Act.
Here are some of the cases for which you might be able to apply for expungement in North Carolina:
- If you were under the age of 18 at the time of your offense and the offense would not land you in adult court today, you can now apply for expungement. Generally, this means people convicted of Class H or Class I felonies or any misdemeanor. North Carolina was the very last state to raise the age for adult criminal offenses to 18, so if you were 16 or 17 years old when you committed an offense, you should contact a Raleigh expungement lawyer right away to see about getting your record expunged.
There are certain offenders who are not eligible for expungement under new state regulations, including those convicted of certain sex crimes and certain motor vehicle offenses.
- Anyone who has multiple misdemeanor convictions can now apply to have all of those convictions removed from their records, as long as the offenses are considered nonviolent. Previously, a prior conviction barred someone from applying for expungement for a new conviction.
There are certain time constraints for applying for expungements. For one misdemeanor conviction, applicants have to wait five years from the date of their conviction and not have committed any new crimes other than traffic offenses.
For multiple misdemeanors, the waiting period is seven years. The applicant cannot have committed any new crimes other than traffic offenses during the waiting period.
Those with one nonviolent felony conviction can apply to have it expunged after 10 years if the crime is a Class H or I felony and the applicant meets all of the necessary requirements.
- If your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, you can apply to have your arrest expunged from your record. Starting in December 2021, some of these records will begin to be automatically expunged under provisions of the Second Chance Act. In the meantime, you can apply to have them manually expunged.
Process of Expunging Records
Under NC expungement law, you can request the expunction of your criminal records by following these steps:
- Determining eligibility: You will have to show that your criminal conviction or case qualifies for expunction. You will need certified copies of court records to prove your case is one that qualifies under the law. You may also need to provide proof of your age at the time of the offense if you qualify for expungement based on your age. For some cases, you might need to provide affidavits of good character.
- Filing the petition: Once you’ve gathered the documents we listed above and had them reviewed by an attorney, you submit these documents to the clerk of court in the county where you were arrested. You will also have to pay a $175 filing fee to the clerk. The filing fee is not required for all cases, so be sure to ask your NC expungement lawyer about this.
- Review by the SBI: The State Bureau of Investigation will review your petition along with your criminal record to make sure you’re eligible for expungement.
- Judgment: A judge or the local prosecutor will look over your petition and the information from the SBI. The judge will then order your records expunged or call for a hearing if there are questions about your eligibility.
- Removal of records: Once the judge has ordered your records expunged, the clerk of the court is required by law to remove those records from your file.
To make sure your paperwork is submitted correctly and that you have the best chance possible at having your records removed, we strongly recommend working with an attorney on your application.
Exceptions for Expungement
There are some crimes under the laws for expungement in North Carolina that cannot be expunged from your record, even if you are a first-time offender and committed the crime before you were 18. These include:
- Class A through Class G felonies
- Crimes that involve contaminating food and/or beverages with the intention of making someone incapacitated
- Felonies that involve an element of assault
- Felonies that require you to appear on a registry, such as a sex offender registry
- Certain stalking or sex-related offenses
- Offenses committed with the use of a commercial vehicle
- Offenses that involve heroin or methamphetamine
- Offenses that involve the possession or the intent to distribute or sell cocaine
- Offenses that involve impaired driving
- Offenses that involve the placement of an exhibit or burning cross while wearing a mask or with the intention to intimidate someone
- Offenses that were sentenced pursuant to G.S. 14-3(c) (hate crimes)
What Is the Second Chance Act, and What Does It Change?
As the name implies, the Second Chance Act is aimed at giving people another chance after a run-in with the law. This law was passed to make it easier for non-violent offenders to find employment and generally live a better life without the burden of a criminal record weighing on them. The Act provides much-needed relief for those who were minors at the time of their offense by enabling them to have most types of convictions expunged, as well as older offenders who have lived a peaceful life since their last run-in with the law.
The Second Chance Act also enables people with multiple convictions to have all of those convictions expunged, as long as all the convictions are for nonviolent crimes. People can also have records expunged that are related to dismissals of crimes that the previous North Carolina expunction law did not allow. Finally, the Act also provides for automatic expungements of dismissals or not guilty convictions, though those provisions of the law will not take effect until December 2021.
Contact a Raleigh Expungement Lawyer Today
Expunging a criminal record can help open doors to you that were previously closed. With the passage of the Second Chance Act, there are more opportunities available for expunging your criminal records. However, the process of expunging your records in North Carolina is far from easy or simple.
The experienced and knowledgeable criminal record expungement lawyers at Kurtz & Blum can guide you confidently through the entire process. We’ll make sure your forms are thoroughly and properly filled out and filed with the appropriate court. We will help you gather the information needed to support your petition for expungement, such as character affidavits and copies of your criminal records. We are in your corner and will guide you every step of the way.
Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our attorneys to learn about your options and the best path forward. We’re ready to help. Contact us today.