New Year, Clean Slate? What You Can and Can’t Expunge from Your Record in North Carolina

It’s a new year, and for some, that means a brand new start. This can apply to a new diet regimen, a renewed dedication to exercise and holistic living, or you could be hoping for a change that hits a little closer to the true meaning of a “clean slate.”

If you or a loved one hopes to expunge something from your records, it’s important to understand what it means first. In our state, to expunge a record means that while the public no longer has access to it, a judge will. Unlike in some states, where the process erases the record entirely, ours keeps track of the past, however discretely. So while a background check still wouldn’t yield this information to a private citizen or business, the record does continue to exist. However, it can no longer negatively affect your ability to find gainful employment, affordable housing, and other benefits.

Though expungement is rare in North Carolina, even with recently expanded opportunities, there are three categories of offenses that typically deem criminal records eligible for the process.

First-time convictions

There are two types of first-time convictions that can generally be expunged from public record: nonviolent offenses occurring more than 15 years previously, and certain offenses committed before the age of 18/21. A juvenile record is already sealed, but if you committed a misdemeanor then it may be expunged after 5 years. In the case of a nonviolent felony, the offense may be expunged after 10 years. Likewise, controlled substance or toxic vapor charges committed before the defendant exceeds 21 years of age might be expunged as well.

Dismissal or disposal

Charges that are dismissed or disposed as “not guilty” can also be expunged. If you were involved in a case that ended in one of these ways, you can file to have it expunged from your record. There’s no reason to have a charge for which you weren’t even punished follow you through job applications and any other instances in which a background check may arise, so look into putting the situation behind you.

Here at Wentz Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping our clients move forward. If you have an offense you want expunged from your record, or need advice on a more current issue, contact us for a consultation. We’ll do everything we can to clear your slate and get you moving ahead again.

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