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Expungement Lawyers in Raleigh, NC
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If you’ve been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime in North Carolina, that information is entered on your criminal record. Because criminal records are public, anyone can access them. This means that a potential landlord or employer could see that you were or allegedly were engaged in criminal conduct. Their final decision could be influenced by what they find in your history. But you shouldn’t have to be hampered by a mistake or an experience you learned from. Fortunately, North Carolina offers relief from the collateral consequences of many arrests, charges, or convictions through expungement. And while this legal vehicle may be available in your situation, applying for it can be difficult. Therefore, it may be in your best interests to hire legal representation for help.
At Floyd Law Offices, our Raleigh expungement lawyer can guide you through the process of clearing your criminal record. We recognize the effects of an arrest, charge, or conviction and want to assist in seeking a second chance. Our attorney will explain the requirements for pursuing an expunction and ensure that you file the correct petition and include all pertinent supporting documents. We can also represent you at a hearing if one is scheduled in your case.
For the legal counsel you need, please call our expungement attorney in Raleigh at (919) 805-3663 or contact us online today.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a way for you to get relief from the adverse impacts of a criminal arrest, charge, or conviction that can persist even after you have completed your sentence. If a judge approves your request for expunction, records of the expunged offense are sealed and inaccessible to the public.
Note that expungement does not result in the complete destruction of your criminal record. Certain agencies still maintain the information related to the incident. Under limited circumstances, law enforcement officials may access your details and use them in some judicial matters.
How Can an Expungement Help Me?
As mentioned earlier, a criminal arrest, charge, or conviction can have lasting impacts. In fact, even if charges are dismissed, the collateral consequences of a criminal charge or conviction are often more injurious than that of their actual or potential court punishments. For instance, you might find it challenging to get a job, qualify for professional licenses, or find a place to live.
If your criminal record is expunged, entries related to the arrest, charge, or conviction are cleared. You can legally deny involvement in the incident. Employment, educational, or housing authorities cannot require you to disclose information about your expunged record, but if questions about it do come up, you do not have to answer them (G.S. § 15A-153).
What Is North Carolina’s Expungement Process?
North Carolina has several statutes concerning expungement. Depending on the law you are seeking relief under, the process for clearing your record may differ. Additionally, the court procedures may vary between each county.
That said, generally, the expungement process is as follows:
- Obtaining a copy of your criminal record: One of the first steps is getting your criminal record. It contains information, such as the charges and date of the offense, you must include on your petition.
- Completing the petition: The petition is your official request for expungement. The form you fill out will depend on the statute you are seeking relief under. It’s important to include accurate and complete information; otherwise, your petition could be delayed or denied.
- Gathering supporting documents: For some offenses, you must include additional paperwork with your petition, such as affidavits of your character from people who know you.
- Filing your petition: You must submit your request to the court in the county where you were charged or convicted. The Wake County Courthouse handles incidents that happened in and around Raleigh, NC.
- Attending a hearing: In some cases, a judge will hold a hearing before deciding whether to approve an expungement request.
The steps listed above depict a condensed version of what to expect for the expungement process. The actual procedure can be complicated, especially when trying to decipher which statute you can apply under and which forms to fill out. Also, when you petition for an expunction, you must follow proper court rules, and court personnel cannot advise you on what to do.
Rather than handling the complexities of your case yourself, allow our Raleigh expungement lawyer to provide the guidance you need.
Who Is Eligible for Expungement in North Carolina?
Individuals arrested for, charged with, or convicted of certain misdemeanors or felonies may be eligible for an expungement of one or more of their offenses. The requirements for applying for and being granted relief are tied to the crime and outcome. Note that a person may not qualify for relief for a violent crime.
As noted, North Carolina has various statutes concerning expungements. Some laws allow for the expungement of certain offenses. Others apply to persons under certain ages at the time of the crime.
A recent law passed in North Carolina, the Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 562), greatly expanded the eligibility criteria for expungement.
It allows relief for individuals convicted of:
- One or more nonviolent misdemeanors,
- One or more nonviolent felonies, or
- All misdemeanors or certain felonies committed before December 19, 2019 by a person 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the offense.
The Second Chance Act also provides automatic expungement for misdemeanor or felony charges that were dismissed or for which a person was found not guilty, provided that the offense was committed on or after December 1, 2021.
If you are seeking to have your criminal record cleared, speak to our expungement attorney in Raleigh for help determining whether you meet the eligibility requirements.
Can a Felony Be Expunged in North Carolina?
Some nonviolent felonies can be expunged.
Under G.S. § 15A-145.5, one or more nonviolent felony convictions can be cleared if the individual:
- Does not owe any fees or restitution,
- Has completed their sentence, probation period, or post-relief supervision
If you are trying to have a nonviolent felony removed from your record, you must wait a certain number of years after your conviction or the completion of your sentence.
Below are the waiting periods:
- 1 nonviolent felony: 10 years
- 2 or 3 nonviolent felonies: 20 years
You cannot have had any criminal cases initiated or pending against you during this time.
Youthful offenders can seek to have Class H or I felonies cleared from their records (G.S. § 15A-145.8A).
To pursue relief, the individual:
- Must have committed the crime before December 1, 2019,
- Must have been 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the offense, and
- Must have completed their sentence.
There is no waiting period to petition for expunction of a youthful conviction. You can apply after you have served your sentence, probation, and post-supervision relief and have satisfied any restitution orders.
First-time offenders could apply for an expunction of a nonviolent felony if they were under 18 years of age at the time of the offense (G.S. § 15A-145.4).
To qualify for relief, the individual:
- Must not have any other misdemeanor or felony convictions on their record and
- Must wait 4 years after their conviction or completing their sentence before applying.
Although North Carolina law allows for expungement of several types of felonies, various others cannot be cleared.
- Class A through G felonies
- Crimes involving assault
- Sex crimes resulting in a sex offender registration requirement
- Certain stalking crimes
- Certain drug crimes
Can a Misdemeanor Be Expunged in North Carolina?
A range of misdemeanor crimes can be removed from a person’s record. For example, the new Second Chance Law allows for single or multiple nonviolent misdemeanors to be expunged.
Eligibility criteria under G.S. § 15A-145.5 include:
- No other convictions on the individual’s record (for expungement of single misdemeanors),
- All fees and restitution paid,
- No pending warrants or criminal cases, and
- No criminal charges or convictions during the waiting period.
If seeking to have one nonviolent misdemeanor expunged, you must wait 5 years after your conviction or completion of sentence before applying. If you are trying to have multiple nonviolent misdemeanors cleared from your record, the waiting period is 7 years.
As with felonies, individuals convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors committed when they were 16 or 17 years of age can also seek expungement. The law (G.S. § 15A-145.8A) applies to all misdemeanors, not just nonviolent offenses.
Can a DWI Be Expunged?
DWI charges resulting in a conviction cannot be expunged. North Carolina General Statutes § 15A-145.5 specifically states that “[a]n offense involving impaired driving as defined in G.S. § 20-4.01(24a) is not eligible for expunction.”
What Other Offenses Can Be Expunged in North Carolina?
In addition to the misdemeanors and felonies listed above, various other crimes are expungable.
Some of the most common are:
- A Charge Resulting in Dismissal or Not Guilty, under G.S. § 15A-146
- A Nonviolent Offense, under G.S. § 15A-145.5
- A Juvenile Record, under G.S. § 7B-3200
- A Misdemeanor Under Age 18, under G.S. § 15A-145
- A Controlled Substance Under Age 22, under G.S. § 15A-145.2
- A Pardon of Innocence, under G.S. § 15A-149
- A Nonviolent Offense, under G.S. § 15A-145.5
- Identity Theft, under G.S. § 15A-147
- DNA Records, under G.S. § 15A-148
- A Prostitution Offense, under G.S. § 15A-145.6
- A Nonviolent Felony Under Age 22, under G.S. § 15A-145.4
- A Gang Offense Under Age 18, under G.S. § 15A-145.1
How Long Does It Take to Expunge Your Criminal Record?
The entire expungement process can take a few months, from completing and filing your petition to having a judge determine whether your request should be granted. Factors affecting the timeframe include verifying your criminal history and scheduling you for a hearing (if necessary).
If the judge approves your request, the order is sent to the State Bureau of Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies for processing. It could take a couple of weeks for the agencies to clear your record.
Get Help Expunging Your Criminal Record
At Floyd Law Offices, our expungement lawyer in Raleigh can assess your eligibility, gather necessary documents, and help build your case for record clearing. We want to help seek to remove hurdles preventing you from accessing various opportunities.
To schedule a consultation, please call us at (919) 805-3663 or submit an online contact form today.
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