To expunge means to cancel out or destroy completely. In the court system, expungement is the destruction of a criminal record by court order. It restores an individual, given the law, to the status he or she occupied before the criminal record existed.
Individuals with criminal charges on their records encounter a variety of problems as they go about their day to day lives. Employment opportunities, government aid, and other resources that could benefit his or her academic or vocational aspirations are often difficult to obtain or out of the question.
North Carolina has expungement laws and processes in place to allow people to move forward, putting their criminal pasts, or at least the legal record of it, behind them.
The Expungement Process in North Carolina
According to North Carolina General Statutes section 15A-145.5, those who have committed a misdemeanor, level H felony, or level I felony may be eligible to file for expungement.
There are five stages of expungement in North Carolina:
- Determine Eligibility — A review of the case facts, the timing of crimes and arrests, and other details will determine eligibility. Certain crimes are not eligible for expungements, such as hate crimes and child abuse, and there are different rules for those under 18 and 22 at the time of the offense.
- File the Petition — The expungement form must be filled out and turned in along with three affidavits of character. A filing fee of $175 is also required.
- Review by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) — Once filed, a judge will send the petition to the SBI for review. This can take six months to one year.
- Final Judgement by the Court — The SBI delivers its decision to a clerk, and a hearing is scheduled. The court then decides whether an expungement is granted.
- Removal of Expunged Records — The criminal history is removed from North Carolina court system sources.
A successful expungement process can take 6 to 12 months. Hiring a North Carolina expungement attorney to assist you in determining eligibility, deciding whether expungement is the best course of action, and filing your petition will accelerate the process significantly. We understand that individuals with criminal records are eager to have them cleared, as expungement opens up many opportunities that were not available before, while simultaneously relieving a tremendous emotional burden.
In fact, according to North Carolina General Statutes § 17-22-150(a), a person whose record has been deleted does not even need to acknowledge previous convictions or criminal charges. This means that, technically, you could say you have not committed the crime since your record no longer reflects those events. Our attorneys understand the positive impact this can have on your confidence, well-being, and life opportunities.
Filing on your own is not recommended as you may experience delays, insufficient paperwork, and several other issues that prolong the process. With the help of an expungement attorney in Raleigh, your chances of filing the petition correctly the first time around are maximized.
Contact Us Today
If you have a criminal record, whether a conviction or a dismissed case, contact Dysart Willis to speak with an expungement lawyer. We can be reached at 919-747-8380, or you can contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.