The courts may be closed in North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do right now to be ready to petition for your record expungement as soon as they reopen.
In fact, if you’re looking to make progress on your North Carolina expungement case, then you very much still can. Here are some steps you can easily follow so you’re ready to go when quarantine is over.
Learn the basics here about the expungement process and what you can do to prepare for starting the process of having your records sealed ahead of time.
What Is Expungement According to North Carolina Law?
When a judge orders the sealing of criminal records so they are not available to the public, this is a process called expungement. The objective of this procedure is to seal records as if the conviction or the charge never happened.
The courts and prosecutors have the ability to see your criminal history, but the records will not show up in public searches or background checks, such as the kind done when you’re applying for jobs and housing.
Who Qualifies for Expungement in North Carolina?
There are two main groups of people that the expungement of records can assist. There are those convicted of a crime and those who were not, and the way the expungement process works for each is different.
If You Were Never Convicted of a North Carolina Crime
If you were charged with a crime but not convicted or the charges were dismissed, then you may qualify for expungement. The exception is if you have previously been convicted of a felony, you are most likely ineligible.
Also, if you were charged with a crime due to mistaken identity or identity theft, then your records can be expunged when the charges were dismissed against you, you were found not guilty, or if the convicted related to the identity theft were set aside.
If You Were Convicted of a Nonviolent Crime in North Carolina
Nonviolent felonies and nonviolent misdemeanors are eligible for expungement under North Carolina law when you’ve met the conditions of court orders related to your sentence.
Once you have, then you must wait five years in order to file for the expungement of a nonviolent misdemeanor and ten years after a nonviolent felony conviction. You also must not be convicted of any other misdemeanors or felonies in the interim other than a traffic violation.
Other Scenarios Where Your North Carolina Record May Be Expunged
You may also be eligible for expungement if you were convicted of:
- A misdemeanor involving drugs or alcohol when you were under 21
- Certain prostitution offenses
- A conviction that was later reversed due to DNA evidence
- Any offense for which you were pardoned
If you are uncertain about whether anything on your criminal record is eligible for expungement, an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can review your case and advise.
What Eligible North Carolinians Can Do Right Now
After it’s been determined you’re eligible for expungement in North Carolina, there are several things you can do to prepare your case. Most of the documents required also need notarization, so your first step is preparing them.
- A notarized affidavit from you stating that you have been of good moral character since your conviction and have not had any other convictions in the years following
- Two notarized affidavits from two people not of any relation to you or each other who can vouch for your reputation and character in the community
- A notarized affidavit that you are under no current civil judgment or restitution orders
Complete or gather these documents, and set them aside for your first chance at having them notarized. Next, complete the proper paperwork needed to file a petition with the county clerk’s office in the county you were charged.
In order to do this, you will need to know the date the offense occurred, date of the disposition, the case number, the title of the agency responsible for the arrest, and specifics of the charges.
Once everything has been gathered and completed, all you have to do is wait!