If you are charged with a crime in North Carolina, it does not necessarily have to stay on your record forever. North Carolina has a process called “expunction,” more commonly called expungement, that allows some individuals to basically erase or delete their criminal record.

Why Should I Want to Expunge My Record?

A criminal record can close doors. Employers can ask about criminal records in the job application process, and many are extremely wary of hiring someone with even a minor criminal history. Criminal records can also be used in credit decisions or for college enrollment, and your new boyfriend or girlfriend could always look it up as well. An expungement will “seal” a criminal record, so that the arrest generally does not need to be disclosed and cannot be viewed by the general public.

Can I Expunge My Record?

North Carolina has three main groups of people that may be able to obtain an expungement. The first group includes anyone with an otherwise clean record who committed a nonviolent crime while they were under age 18. Second, cases can usually be expunged if they are dismissed. Finally, prostitution convictions can often be expunged.

Expungement on the Basis of Age

The legal system in most states goes out of its way to forgive minor crimes committed by young people. North Carolina is no different. For most misdemeanors, a person who committed the offense before turning 18 can have the record expunged either two years after the conviction or at the end of any probation period, whichever is later and assuming no other crimes are committed during this time. Underage possession of beer or wine committed by someone between the age of 18 and 21 can also be expunged in most cases. The state has specific rules for expunging gang offenses by those under 18. Nonviolent felonies can be expunged after a four-year waiting period or the end of any sentence. Expungement will generally not be available to a person that already has a criminal record or that commits another crime shortly after the crime they hope to expunge.

Relief From Dismissals

North Carolina law recognizes that many cases end in dismissals that can remain on a person’s record and harm their future prospects. Examples include pretrial diversions, where a defendant may admit allegations and agree to some sort of a treatment program in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to dismiss the charges once the program is complete. In these situations, expungement is generally available to anyone that has no prior felony convictions and no prior expungements. In addition to the general rules, North Carolina has a robust set of specific rules for expungement of drug offenses that are dismissed after the suspect finishes a treatment program. Cyberbulling and tobacco offenses also have specific rules.

Prostitution

The legislature in North Carolina has decided that convictions for prostitution should be eligible for expungement. A conviction can be expunged for anyone that was a victim of human trafficking or a person that has no prior convictions and then completes a three-year waiting period without additional offenses after the conviction.

In a fix? Call on Fitz!

If you are finding that your past criminal history is causing you problems, contact the Law Office of John C. Fitzpatrick to explore your options.