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 Documents Do You Need to Gather to Start the Expungement Process?
To start the expungement process, you will fill out a petition form found on the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s website. There, you will 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?
There are many different types of criminal records that can be expunged in North Carolina. For example:
- You can get an expunction after you had a case dismissed or you were found not guilty.
- You can get an expunction for a single misdemeanor conviction if it occurred before your 18th birthday so long as you have stayed out of trouble for at least two years since that conviction.
- You can get an expunction for a single misdemeanor possession of alcohol conviction if you were under 21 at time of the offense.
- You can get an expunction for a single misdemeanor drug offense or even for a felony drug possession conviction if you were less than 21 at the time of the offense and have completed a drug education program.
- You may even be able to get an expunction for a single non-violent felony if you were under 18 at the time of the offense, four years have passed since the date of either your conviction or from the time you got out of prison or off of probation, and after you have performed 100 hours of community service.
Many people who have been convicted of a nonviolent crime can petition for expungement after a certain waiting period. For people convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor, you must wait five years. For people convicted of a non-violent felony, you must wait 10 years.
Most often, a person is eligible for one expungement of a conviction during their lifetime. However, in cases of mistaken identity, expunctions are now automatic and are no longer limited to one per lifetime. There is also no limit to dismissals being expunged.
Process of Expunging Records
There are five main steps involved in the expungement of records in North Carolina, although the process can take several months. The steps are:
- Determining eligibility: There is no limit on the amount of dismissed cases a person can have expunged from his or her record. However, individuals can only have one conviction expunged from their records during their lifetime, and even then, this only applies to certain offenses.
- Filing the petition: A petition for expungement must be filed in the clerk’s office in the county where the individual was charged. This may involve signing an affidavit and submitting character witness statements.
- Review by the SBI: The petition is sent to the State Bureau of Investigation, where it is reviewed and a person’s criminal record is searched.
- Judgment: A judge will review the petition and information provided by the SBI. The judge may then decide to sign an order to expunge the record, or the judge may decide that a formal hearing is required if the prosecution objects to the expungement or the applicant’s eligibility is called into question.
- Removal of records: After a judge signs an order to expunge the record, the clerk of the court must, under law, remove the records.
Although the process of expunging records may sound relatively simple, it is best to work with a Raleigh criminal record expungement lawyer who understands the process and can ensure no details are overlooked.
Exceptions for Expungement
Although there are many offenses eligible for expungement, some are not. These include:
- Class A – G felonies
- Crimes that involve an element of assault
- Felonies that include a requirement of appearing on a registry, such as a sex offender registry
- Sex-related or stalking offenses
- Felonies that involve methamphetamines, heroin, or possession with intent to sell or distribute cocaine
It is important to understand that expungement is only available for first offenders. A person with multiple convictions is ineligible for expungement.
What to Do If You Are Not Eligible for Expungement
Outside of getting a case expunged, you may petition for a certificate or relief, which is a court order that can reduce collateral sanctions and disqualifications of a conviction, such as difficulties in finding employment or housing.
It is also occasionally possible to re-open a criminal conviction and ask the assistant district attorney (or ADA) to consider dismissing it or renegotiating the charge based on some circumstances through a process called a Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR).
Another option is to seek a pardon from the governor, although these are much more difficult to obtain.
In Need of Help? Contact Kurtz & Blum
It is a relief to learn that your conviction can be expunged from your record. Unfortunately, this is not an easy process. At Kurtz & Blum, our Raleigh criminal record expungement lawyers can help. We can determine whether you are eligible for expungement, assist with your petition, and ensure it is filed in the proper court to ensure the process moves forward as efficiently as possible.
Contact us now to schedule a meeting with one of our knowledgeable attorneys and to learn more about how we can help with your case.