Have you been accused or convicted of a crime and wondered to yourself, "How can I get this off my record forever?"
Well, some good news from the NC legislature.
At the end of July, Governor Roy Cooper signed a new law that dramatically reduces the wait times before an individual could have their record cleared or "expunged".
An Expungement (sometimes referred to as expunction) clears the conviction from your public criminal record making it easier to find employment, enroll in higher education and generally go on to lead a productive life
Under the new rules which go into effect on December 1, 2017, the wait time for expungement for a first-time, non-violent felony is reduced to 10 years from 15. They also lessen the wait to five years for a nonviolent misdemeanor and eliminate a restriction on someone obtaining multiple expungements if prior charges were dismissed or the person was acquitted in court.
Of course, there's also a catch.
In exchange for the shorter wait times, prosecutors will now be allowed to see previous expungements and can take those into account when determining a defendant’s prior conviction level.
So, what does that really mean?
Well, if you've had a prior expungement for a low-level, non-violent crime like DWI or drug possession and get arrested again for a similar offense, the prosecution will be able to see the previous expungement and may push for tougher sentencing. At the moment, that is not possible.
The bill also makes certain exceptions for specific types of offenses, especially for juveniles
Still, as a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer for more that 20 years, I welcome such important reforms in the criminal code that allow people to put their past in the past and no longer worry that one bad decision will continue to haunt their life indefinitely.
Under the current system, simply being charged with a crime creates a public record that may turn up in a background check even if the case was dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial.
I know that makes no sense, but it's the way it works here in North Carolina.
So, filing a petition for expungement can be a great solution, especially for juveniles arrested or convicted of minor offenses such as drug or alcohol possession and for older adults whose case disposition exceeds the minimum waiting period (soon to be 10 years).
Currently, the rules for expunction in North Carolina are somewhat complicated and you may only be allowed one expungement in your entire life so it is critical to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is very familiar with the laws of this state.
At Kurtz & Blum, we can advise you on the best options given your circumstances and the new laws which will soon go into effect. We offer straight-forward talk in a confidential and private initial consultation to determine what might work best for you. In addition, our fees for helping to file your expungement petition are very reasonable.
Give us a call today at 919-832-7700 and let one of our criminal defense lawyers walk you through process of putting the past behind you... for good.
Learn more about the North Carolina expungement process by visiting our website.
Cooper signs law making it easier for some to clear criminal slates
NewsObserver.com. July 28, 2017
General Assembly of North Carolina - Senate Bill 445