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Dysart Willis

N.C. Legislature Expands Eligibility for Criminal Record Expunctions

On July 28, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 445 into law, making it easier for those convicted of non-violent crimes to have their criminal records "expunged." An expungement has the effect of "erasing" a record of arrest or criminal conviction from public view. This law, which broadens eligibility for expunctions, will increase access to jobs and educational opportunities for many individuals with a criminal history.

Prior to passing this law, criminal records were subject to expunction when the individual was a first-time offender and when the prior conviction was for a non-violent offense, but only if it had been more than 15 years since the date of the conviction. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A145.5(c). The new law reduces the 15-year mandatory wait time to allow for expunction after only 10 years for first-time non-violent felony convictions and 5 years for first-time non-violent misdemeanor convictions.

In addition to reducing the mandatory wait period, the new law also reduces limits on prior expunctions. Under North Carolina's old expunction law, a person was eligible for an expunction of charges dismissed by the court or prosecutor or if the person has been found not guilty, only if he has not previously obtained an expunction. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-146. The new law allows for the expunction of multiple dismissals and findings of "not guilty," regardless of whether the individual has previously obtained one.

Eligible individuals will be able to obtain expunctions under the new law beginning December 1, 2017. If you believe that you may be a candidate for criminal record expunction, we would be happy to assist you. Please contact Dysart Willis at 919-747-8380 to set up a free consultation.