Having a criminal record can have an extremely negative impact on a person’s life. Getting such a record erased is the dream of many, but most people feel that is unattainable. Thankfully, North Carolina laws allow for certain convicted individuals to apply for expungement, which does, in a way, clear their records. Here are a few answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about expungement.
What does an expungement do?
When the courts approve an expungement request, the petitioner’s record is wiped clean — to an extent. This means that the individual no longer has to report having a conviction when applying for work, housing, schooling or anything else that requires full disclosure of one’s criminal record. In other words, the conviction is removed from public record, so the information is not easily accessible when a background check is run.
Is the expunged offense still considered a prior on a person’s record?
Yes. While the expungement removes a conviction from public view, law enforcement agencies still have access to this information. Even if it is under seal, these agencies may still use it as proof of a prior offense.
There are several different factors considered when determining if a person qualifies for expungement. Some of these factors include a person’s criminal history, the nature of the crime, jurisdiction and the date of the conviction — among various others. Usually, there is a waiting period before individuals seeking expungement may apply.
Seeking an expungement is not something North Carolina residents should do on their own. It is a complicated area of law. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help those who wish to pursue expungement figure out if they meet all the necessary qualifications and, if they do, assist them with the process.