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North Carolina’s Second Chance Act is still moving through the statehouse. If it’s signed into law, though, it could be the dawn of a new day for North Carolinians with criminal records.

Criminal records can follow you around for the rest of your life, long after you’ve paid the associated fines or served your time in jail. The Second Chance Act is looking to help those with criminal records to expunge their records — but it’s not the only way this can be done.

Here’s what you need to know about the Second Chance Act and what you can do right now to expunge your criminal history.

What Is North Carolina’s Second Chance Act?

The Second Chance Act, if passed, would work to automatically remove criminal record charges that were dismissed or for which someone was found not guilty. It also would help with the expungement of some juvenile convictions, as well as some nonviolent felony and misdemeanor convictions.

This bill would basically make it much easier for a person to expunge their criminal record through a streamlined process. Removing a person’s criminal history from the public record can result in making it easier for them to find housing and jobs.

Expungements Permitted under the Second Chance Act

In the Second Chance Act, certain types of expungements would be permitted. These include:

Juvenile Convictions

Under the terms of the bill, expungement for juvenile convictions can be filed if these criteria are met:

  • The crime was committed when the perpetrator was 16 or 17 years old
  • The person has fulfilled any restitution orders resulting from the crime
  • Active sentences, probation, and post-release supervision has been served relating to the crime
  • The crime was a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony

Automatic Expungement of Certain Charges

Another impact the Second Chance Act would have is that it would automatically expunge the records of anyone who fulfills the criteria:

  • Charges for a felony or misdemeanor were dismissed, with the exception of motor vehicle violations
  • Acquitted charges for felonies or misdemeanors except for motor vehicle violations

By having the record expunged of these things, a person can say they’ve never been arrested or convicted for the offense.

Nonviolent Misdemeanor or Felony Convictions Expungement

Under the proposed law, a petition can be filed for expungement for certain nonviolent crimes, both felonies and misdemeanors, for which a person was convicted. These are the offenses that would not be covered under this provision:

  • Class A1 misdemeanors or Class A through G felonies
  • Offenses that include sexual assault
  • Offenses that require sex offender registration
  • Certain sex-related and stalking offenses
  • Felony possession with intent to sell or deliver heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines
  • Any offense involving impaired driving

What North Carolinians Can Do Right Now

The Second Chance Act is not yet law in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something about your record. Right now in North Carolina, you qualify for expungement if:

  • You have met the required waiting period for the crime you want to be expunged
  • You are not on probation or parole with a court anywhere
  • You have paid all court-ordered costs and have proof you did so
  • You have no active warrants for your arrest or criminal summons
  • You have no open criminal cases
  • You have no criminal charges against you pending

North Carolina Expungement Attorneys

In short, you have a chance for a clean record now in certain circumstances, but the Second Chance Act can help to guarantee that for more North Carolinians. 

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