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The statutes covering expungements in North Carolina are set to be changed dramatically in December 2017. The new law increases the availability of relief in two significant ways:

  1. Reducing the waiting period to expunge non-violent criminal convictions
  2. Allowing dismissed charges or charges found not guilty to be expunged regardless of whether the person has had an expungement before

The new changes are not limited to offenses that occur on or after December 1, 2017. Any charge from before that date will be allowed to benefit from the new law. The major tradeoff for receiving this huge expansion in expungement availability is the ability for a prosecutor to see and uses certain expungements if a person is subsequently convicted of a criminal offense. All in all, this new law is going to benefit a large group of North Carolina citizens who were once otherwise precluded from filing a second expungement.

Reducing the Waiting Period to Expunge Non-violent Convictions

In the old version of the law, a person could file to expunge a non-violent felony or misdemeanor conviction if at least 15 years have passed, there were no criminal conviction in the interim, and other statutory conditions were satisfied. The new statute reduces the waiting period to 10 years for felonies and 5 years for misdemeanors. The other conditions were not changed. This waiting period starts after someone’s sentence is completed. If, for instance, a person was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation on a misdemeanor conviction, they would have to wait 6 years after the conviction date to file for an expungement.

Allowing Dismissed or Not Guilty Charges to be Expunged Regardless of Prior Expungements

The old expungement law allowed someone to expunge dismissed charges or not guilty charges if there had not been a prior expunction filed. The new statute eliminates this requirement in most instances. Three parts of the statute allow expungements without mentioning whether the person has received one previously:

  1. Continues to allow expungement of dismissals
  2. Allows the expungement of multiple dismissals and erases the requirement that the charges occur within the same one year period. Also, a person may obtain an
    expungement for a dismissed charge even if they were convicted of misdemeanors in the same case.
  3. Continues to allow expungements for not guilty charges, and does not make them available to prosecutors for any subsequent conviction

For whatever reason, impaired driving offenses were not allowed to be expunged in the old law, and they continue to not be allowed in the new version. Any dismissed or not guilty DWI will always stay on a person’s record. So, 10 years after being convicted of embezzling $100,000, a person can benefit from the expungement laws, but they can not if they were found guilty of a first offense misdemeanor DWI.

The Tradeoff

The new law allows prosecutors to access and use most expungements to determine someone’s prior record level for new criminal offenses. This applies to charges expunged after June, 2018.

The statute giving prosecutors this information does not include charges that were expunged after being dismissed or found not guilty.

Finding a Raleigh Attorney to Help With an Expungement

The information on this page should only serve as an overview of North Carolina expungement law. Every scenario is different, and whether your case qualifies for an expungement could hinge on many factors. At Saad Law, we are dedicated to our clients’ futures. That doesn’t stop when a case gets dismissed or won at trial. We want your criminal history to be completely clean. Call today to see if your record can be erased.