North Carolina recently made some major changes to its expungement legislation. The new law, Senate Bill 445, took effect in December of 2017 and substantially reduces the amount of time you must wait before applying for expungement of your criminal record.
Why is that important? Because if you have a criminal record, it can be hard to get a job, a home – even an apartment. The goal of this shortened waiting period is to allow you to get back on your feet sooner.
How much shorter is the waiting period?
Prior to the new legislation, you would have had to wait fifteen years – after you completed probation – to file for expungement. Under the new law, you will have to wait five years for a non-violent misdemeanor conviction, and ten years for a non-violent felony conviction.
Again, this is the period of time you have to wait once you complete your probation.
Can I get a DWI conviction expunged?
No. If you are convicted of impaired driving, you will never be able to remove that conviction from your record.
How do I apply for expungement?
Your first step is to determine if you are eligible for record expungement. If you are eligible, your next step is to file a petition in the same county courthouse where the original charge was filed.
There are a number of different forms to choose from, depending on your age and the conviction, which can be confusing. You may also have to provide affidavits to the court, and pay a filing fee.
How long will it take for my record to be expunged?
There is no set time for the record expungement process. State agencies will be reviewing your records, and in some counties you may be required to attend a formal hearing. You may have a formal hearing if there are any points of concern, or questions, regarding your petition.
All of these things take time, so it could be months before your record is cleared.
Is it considered lying if I don‘t tell employers about my conviction?
It would only be lying if you have not had your record expunged and don’t tell them about your conviction. Once your record has been expunged, it’s as if the conviction never existed, and you don’t have to reveal it on any type of application – including employment.
One thing to note – prosecutors and law enforcement officers will still be able to see your conviction, even though it has been expunged.
Yes, it will take time and some time, effort and money on your part to have your criminal record expunged, but the benefits you’ll receive will far outweigh any costs.