What is the North Carolina Second Chance Act?

There has long been controversy regarding the treatment of juveniles in criminal law. Many advocates say it is important prevent young offenders from weighed down by a criminal record for acts at such a young age, especially if the offence is non-violent.  The North Carolina Second Chance Act is a bipartisan bill that will allow for the expungement of a large number of juvenile criminal records in the state. Here is some information on the Second Chance Act and how individuals can seek expungement under the bill.

What is the scope of the Second Chance Act?

The Second Chance Act is wide-reaching, and could be responsible for the expungement of hundreds of thousands of criminal records in North Carolina. Under the Act, it is possible for non-violent offences to be removed from criminal records if the offender was under 18 at the time. Unlike past laws, this expungement is possible even if the offender went on to be convicted of a felony.

Are charges expunged automatically?

Individuals who have nonviolent charge(s) in a single county will have their records expunged automatically, although it may take some time as lists need to be compiled by the District Attorney’s offices. However, there are some circumstances where individuals will need to petition to expungements; for example, if there are multiple charges in a case, or charges across multiple counties. This can get complex since counties are all approaching their response to the bill slightly differently.

How to get an expungement under the Second Chance Act

Due to the fact that North Carolina has a non-centralized legal system, the rollout of the Second Chance Act is quite complex and could take a while. Understandably, former juvenile offenders may be eager for a faster resolution. Petitioning for an expungement under the act may be the best way forward in these cases, therefore former juvenile offenders can benefit from speaking with a North Carolina lawyer to move forward.

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