When a petition for expunction is granted, a criminal case court file is removed from the Clerk of Court’s office and destroyed. As far as the law is concerned, the case never existed and it cannot be listed on a criminal background check. A conviction, dismissal or a finding of Not Guilty will still appear on a criminal history. Therefore, you want to expunge cases whenever possible.
Proposed Senate Bill 362 would amend the expunction laws and allow for a shorter waiting period for the expunction of nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions. It would also allow for the dismissal of any case where a Not Guilty verdict was reached or the case was dismissed regardless of whether an expunction was previously granted.
Currently, you must wait 15 years for a misdemeanor and low-felony conviction to attain eligibility for an expungement in the state of North Carolina. But with if SB 362 becomes law, the waiting period will be substantially shorter: five years for certain misdemeanors and ten years for certain felonies. Expunction of a prior criminal conviction will remove barriers to those who experience are rejected or disqualified from opportunities due to a prior criminal conviction.
Misdemeanor Expungement in North Carolina
Those with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions such as drug and theft related offenses may be able to erase all record of the crime as early as five years after the date of conviction.
Low-Level Felony Conviction Expungement in North Carolina
If the bill becomes law, nonviolent low-level North Carolina felony convictions could be expunged as soon as 10 years after the date of conviction if there was not an active sentence. If there was an active sentence, the wait is five years or the expiration of probation and post release supervision whichever comes later.
No limit on number of expunctions for dismissed cases and acquittals
Currently, a person can only receive and expunction for dismissed cases occurring within a 12 month period. Once an expunction is granted, another cannot be sought even if the next case is dismissed or there is a finding of Not Guilty. If this bill becomes law, dismissed cases and acquittals can be expunged from one’s record whenever they occur. For example, one would be able to have both a dismissed marijuana possession charge from 2005 and a dismissed larceny charge from 2009 expunged instead of just selecting one. This is a huge benefit for those who have had several acquittals and/or dismissals over a period of years.
This bill is still pending but if it applies to you, I will update this blog when/if it becomes law. Keep your fingers crossed.