Most people often associate being convicted of a crime with spending time in jail. Although incarceration is a serious matter, it is only one of the numerous potential consequences that a conviction can have on a person’s life. A criminal record can limit employment and housing opportunities, tear apart families, and block a plethora of other benefits essential to being a productive member of society.
What is an expunction and what does it do?
North Carolina defines expunction as the destruction of a criminal record by court order. The main purpose of an expunction (also known as an expungement) is to restore the individual in the view of the law to the status that he or she occupied prior to the existence of a criminal record. An expunction allows the individual (with rare exception) to deny or refuse to acknowledge a criminal incident has occurred without committing perjury or being deceitful. The primary exception is for purposes of federal immigration.
What makes a person eligible?
Contrary to popular belief, opportunities to expunge a record in North Carolina are exceedingly rare. Generally, expunctions are reserved for first time nonviolent offenses committed more than fifteen years ago, first time offenses committed at the age of eighteen or twenty-two, or a charge that was dismissed or disposed not guilty.
Determining an individual’s eligibility for expunction of a conviction or charge in North Carolina often requires the utilization of two tools.
Types of Expunctions
Currently, North Carolina has twelve expunction types and statues. Each statue has different criteria that makes an individual eligible to apply for that expunction. Most statues have an age stipulation that requires the individual to have been under the age of either eighteen or twenty-two at the time of the alleged criminal incident. An example of this, is the expungement for Misdemeanor Possession of Alcohol (Under twenty-one). The criteria for this expungement as laid out by its accompanying statue, is that the individual must wait two years from the conviction or completion of probation to apply for an expunction. Any misdemeanor or felony convictions during the two years after the alcohol conviction make the individual ineligible for expungement.
Some offenses are harder to remove from an individual’s record than others. In North Carolina, DWI offenses are an example of such an offense. The rationale behind this is because the victims of drunk driving cannot forget the pain that they suffered from DWI therefore, North Carolina ensures that drunk drivers have a hard time erasing the memory of their crime.
Process for Expunction in North Carolina
In North Carolina, there is a six step process for petitioning for Expunction of a criminal record. The six steps are listed below:
Each case is unique, however, the expunction process normally takes about six to nine months to complete.