If you want to give yourself the gift of a clean slate in North Carolina for 2021, then you can petition the court for something called an expungement. Clearing your record is not as simple of a process as it may seem, however.
North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation confirmed that they are currently behind in processing orders for expungement. As of now, they are processing orders received in September and granting orders they got way back in June.
Having an expungement processed through the various government agencies involved is not an easy process and is one that you should get the ball rolling on as soon as you can. Here’s what to know about having your North Carolina record expunged.
Expungement in North Carolina: What Is It?
Expungement is a process by which a judge orders that a criminal record be sealed so that it is not open to the public. In this state, expungement is meant to seal a record as if the conviction or charge for a crime didn’t happen. Law enforcement agencies will still be able to view the information, but the public will not.
This doesn’t mean that all traces of criminal charges are taken out of the public sphere, however. Government agencies are ordered to remove these records from their databases, but private databases may take some more follow up than you thought necessary.
It may take some time for private databases that were sold your data by government agencies to clear their databases as well. This is just one more reason to have an experienced expungement attorney on your side.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The expungement process, any processing delays aside, is not a quick one in North Carolina. You must first petition the judge to make a special request to the State Bureau of Investigation to see if your case qualifies for expungement.
How quickly the State Bureau of Investigation gets back to the judge will impact the amount of time it takes for your record to be expunged. Currently, you can expect a window of between three and six months for processing.
Who Qualifies for Expungement?
If you want to have your record expunged, then your case must fit these criteria:
- You are not on probation or parole with any court in any jurisdiction
- You have met the required waiting period for record expungement
- There are no current warrants for your arrest
- You have paid all costs associated with your court case and have proof that you did
- There are no open criminal cases against you
- There are no pending criminal charges against you
For felony convictions, you are eligible for expungement if you were found not guilty or your case was dismissed. If you were convicted, however, then you may have to wait longer before you can petition the court for an expungement. Any violent felony convictions will not be eligible for expungement.
Misdemeanor charges that resulted in a not guilty verdict are immediately eligible to be expunged from your record. If found guilty, how long you must wait depends on the specific charge.
If you’re ready to expunge your record in North Carolina, then it’s something you should certainly pursue. A criminal record of any kind can have a big impact on your life, so if you qualify, it is worth it to take steps to make sure your mistakes don’t come up on background checks.