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Frequently asked questions about expungement in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2019 | Criminal law

Make a criminal record disappear

A criminal record will follow you everywhere. It can make it challenging to get a job, rent an apartment, and obtain child custody. It can cause a person to lose driving rights, firearm rights, and others. Even after someone has served their time and did not re-offend, their criminal past can haunt them.

However, in some cases, convictions can be erased from people’s records as if it never happened. This process is called expungement, but it can also be called expunction. North Carolina uses the two terms interchangeably.

What is expungement, exactly?

According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, expungement is the legal process of removing a criminal conviction or charge from a person’s record, as well as sealing or destroying the state’s records of their arrest, charge, or conviction.

What are the benefits of expungement?

The benefit of going through this process is that in the eyes of the state, prospective employers, renting agents, and others, you have a clean record. Even if you were to end up in court one day, it would not be considered lying under oath if you deny that charge ever occurred.

Are there any drawbacks?

While, for the most part, expungement erases the effects of a criminal record, there are still some instances where your record can be accessed. For example, an expunged record could be brought up and considered in a federal immigration case. You can learn more about the exceptions here, here, and here.

Who can get their record expunged?

There are many statues in North Carolina relating to expungement and who is eligible. Some say that only certain convictions can be erased, like drug charges. Others allow for expungement for more types of cases, but only if the person was under the age of 18 or 21 when they offended. Sometimes, it depends on the outcome of the case. For example, if the charges were dismissed or the person was not found guilty. You can read about all these statues here.

How do I get started?

There is a lot of information on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website about expungement, including how the process works and how to get started. It is also advisable to seek guidance for an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the best outcome.