The North Carolina Second Chance Act was signed into law in June of 2020 and took effect on December first. It is a law that has dramatically impacted the lives of those who have criminal records, by helping to expand expungements for many.
Are you now eligible in North Carolina for an expungement?
Read on to find out more about North Carolina’s Second Chance Act, how to know if you’re eligible for expungement, and what you need to do to take advantage of this opportunity.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is when a criminal conviction is sealed from the state or federal record. The court will treat an expunged conviction as if it never happened and it is removed from a person’s criminal record as well as their public record.
An expungement is not a pardon – you are not forgiven for any crimes committed. However, it is something that has to be ordered by the court or a judge.
What the North Carolina Second Chance Act Does
The Second Chance Act makes expunging the criminal record of an individual easier in some cases. Here are the types of expungements helped in this bill:
For those with juvenile convictions, the prosecutor or the individual can file a petition of expungement if certain criteria are met. These include:
- Crimes committed when someone was age 16 or 17
- Periods of probation, active sentences, and any type of post-release supervision have been served for the crime
- All restitution orders have been fulfilled
- The offense in question was a misdemeanor or a Class H or Class I felony (though it cannot be a violation of certain motor vehicle laws)
Dismissed or Acquitted Charges
This bill also works to automatically expunge dismissed or acquitted charges. It will happen for certain charges without filing a petition with the court. These will include charges such as misdemeanors or felonies that were dismissed, as well as charges for which a person was found not guilty in court for either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Non-violent Misdemeanors and Felonies
If you were convicted of certain misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, then you may be eligible under the Second Chance Act to petition the court for expungement. However, only certain crimes are eligible for this. You cannot have been convicted of any of the following to qualify:
- A Class A through Class G felony
- Class A1 misdemeanor
- Any offense that includes assault
- Any offense requiring sex offender registration
- Certain sex-related or stalking convictions
- Felony possession with intent to deliver or sell heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines
- Certain cases involving impaired driving
For felonies, it must be at least 10 years from your last conviction to be eligible — five years for misdemeanors. Talk to an attorney to see if your conviction is eligible for expungement.
How to File a Petition for Expungement in NC
If all the criteria are met under the Act, then you can petition for the expungement of your criminal record. A petition must be filed in the court of the county where you were convicted. It is served to the district attorney, who can then object to your petition within 30 days. Any victims must also be notified of the petition.
Expungement has helped many people regain some control over their lives in the wake of a conviction. If you are eligible, then you should take advantage of it with the help of an attorney to ensure your future.